By ISAAC DEER
Washburn Rural’s gruesome schedule this week didn’t stop the Junior Blues from shutting out Junction City on Friday night to cap a wire-to-wire Centennial League championship softball run.
The Junior Blues, 19-1, were able to tally 31 runs on the board by the end of the day at Lake Shawnee on Rural’s Senior Night.
Washburn Rural scored 16 runs in game one and 15 runs in game two. The barrage of runs forced each game to end in three innings by the way of the run rule.
Washburn Rural playe seven games on the week, creating many challenges for the Junior Blues before the Class 6A regionals next week.
Washburn Rural accepted this week’s challenge and ended it in a loud way.
“They showed a lot of grit today after a long week,” Washburn Rural coach Liz Stover said. “Our games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were tough, but they pulled through. If they can keep up this rhythm going into next week, that will be good for all of us heading into regionals.”
One of the biggest stars in Friday night’s blowout sweep was junior pitcher Emmerson Cope. Cope got the win and the no-hitter in the circle in Game 1. Cope pitched all three innings and fanned four batters.
“This game meant a lot for me going into regionals,” Cope said. “I felt good going out there and taking care of business. I think today will help us going into next week. If we can carry over what we did today, we will be good.”
In both games combined, Cope had five runs batted in including a double and a three-run opposite-field home run giving her another stellar outing.
Cope wasn’t the only Junior Blue that crushed a ball past the fence on Friday night. Mckenna Schuler and Mikaila Herring both hit three-run home runs. Schuler and Herring, who are both seniors, were able to crush home runs in their last regular-season game.
“It was my first home run and it felt great,” Herring said. “Having that big home run today has me really hyped up and excited for next week. Our hitting has been great for us this year. If the offense keeps playing this well, regionals will be fun.”
In Game 1, the Washburn Rural offense started off the day in a good way.
In the first inning, Rural put up two runs on three hits. After Cope and Baylee Dial got on base, Emily Louderback plated one run while an error scored another.
Five runs would come home in the bottom of the second inning thanks to quality hitting and four Junction City errors. Cope and Trenna Whitmore drove in two runs with their hits while the errors took care of the rest as the Junior Blues took a seven-run lead in just two innings.
Washburn Rural’s offense nearly doubled its incredible run total from the second inning into the bottom of the third inning. Luckily for Rural, Junction City would commit four more errors assisting the Junior Blues. In Rural’s nine-run third inning, they collected just three hits.
After five runs came in off of Junction City’s struggling defense, Schuler would hit a three-run home run.
Rural’s nine-run inning would end the contest with a 16-0 victory.
Seniors Campbell Bagshaw, Baylee Dial, Whitmore, Schuler, Emily Louderback, Ryanne Rapp and Herring were honored in between the doubleheader.
Game 2 was nearly identical to the opener. While Junction City played much better, Washburn Rural’s offense was stellar.
Cope’s three-run blast, Herring’s run-scoring double and Schuler’s RBI groundout gave the Junior Blues a five-run lead before Junction City could take a breath in the bottom of the first.
Herring would match Cope’s three-run home run in the first inning with one of her own in the second inning. Kaci Bath’s two-run double, Chloe Carlgren’s one-run double and Whitmore’s one-run single gave Rural a 12-run lead in just the second inning.
Whitmore would walk it off in the third inning with a two-run single, giving Washburn Rural the 15-0 blowout win.
Washburn Rural will learn who its regional opponents will be on Saturday.
WASHBURN RURAL 16, JUNCTION CITY 0
Junction City 000 – 0 0 8
Washburn Rural 259 – 16 9 0
2B -- Washburn Rural:Whitmore, Cope. HR -- Washburn Rural: Schuler.
WASHBURN RURAL 15, JUNCTION CITY 0
Junction City 000 – 0 4 2
Washburn Rural 573 – 15 11 0
2B -- Washburn Rural: Louderback, Bath, Carlgren. HR -- Washburn Rural: Cope, Herring.