May 22, 2023

Lady Mustangs look to replicate regional magic at state

Posted May 22, 2023 11:11 PM

Little Apple Post contributor

Despite entering their regional bracket as just the 12-seed, the Rock Creek softball team battled and overcame the odds to knock off Holton and Ottowa en route to a third-consecutive trip to the 4A state tournament.

Now, the Lady Mustangs find themselves in familiar territory, and will once again play the role of underdog as this year’s 8-seed, taking on a league opponent in Wamego for the third time in 2023.

The Rock Creek team that will enter this year’s 4A tournament in Salina is a far cry from the one that began the year 1-4, and multiple matchups with some of the best teams in the state have prepared the Lady Mustangs for this very moment.

“Our biggest strength has been in our resilience,” Rock Creek head coach Jeri Brummett said. “We play in a really tough league but this group has been committed to improvement from the beginning.”

Getting to grips with a new-look squad would have been difficult enough in an average league, but learning on the fly against opponents like Wamego, Clay Center, Rossville, Silver Lake, and St. Mary’s only made Rock Creek’s magical regional run all the more special.

“I was more proud of this team after that than I have been in a long time,” Brummett said. “We graduated five starters from last year’s team and we had to coach a little bit. Our schedule prepared us for those games with Holton and Ottowa and the kids competed their heinies off.”

With regionals in the rearview, the Lady Mustangs will look to stave off elimination at the hands of Wamego for a second-straight season, and are taking a ‘why not us’ approach to this year’s competition in Salina.

“It takes a good deal of skill and a good deal of luck to get here,” she said. “We feel fortunate but we know we played hard to get to where we are now. We rarely go into state as a top seed because of our schedule but we’ve knocked off top seeds before, we’re used to being the underdog.”

While recent success has put a renewed pep in the step of the Lady Mustangs, the team isn’t taking anyone lightly, and will be prepared for a real battle on Thursday with a Lady Raider team that got the better of them twice earlier this season.

“Wamego is a talented group of kids and we can’t give them any outs for free,” Brummett said. “Their pitching has given up very few runs this year and we’ve been working diligently on what we need to do to improve our hitting. We’re not the same team that we were when they played them earlier this season and we know that any team can beat any team on any given day.”

First pitch between the Lady Mustangs and Raiders is scheduled for 5:00 on Field A at Salina South High School on Thursday, with the semifinals and 4A state championship game slated for Friday.

For continuing coverage of Rock Creek softball all postseason long stay tuned to the Little Apple Post.