PITTSBURG — Humboldt High’s softball team kept knocking on the door Tuesday evening.
And after too many missed opportunities to count against their opponents from Riverton High, the Lady Cubs finally broke through just enough to punch their ticket to the state tournament.
Kayle Riebel’s double scored Breanna Kline to erase a 3-2 deficit for Humboldt in the bottom of the fourth inning. Courtney Richey followed with a double of her own to score Riebel, giving the Lady Cubs a 4-3 lead.
It was all Richey needed. She shut down the Rams’ offense over the final three innings to seal the 4-3 victory in the Class 3A Regional Championship.
The win puts Humboldt (15-2) in the Class 3A State Tournament, which begins May 23 in Manhattan.
The game boiled down to “awesome offense, fantastic defense and great pitching,” Humboldt coach Brad Piley said. “We probably should have won by more than we did.”
Humboldt pounded out 16 hits in the contest, but stranded several runners. On two occasions, the Lady Cubs loaded the bases, only to come away empty. On another, Breanna Kline was gunned down by a Ram outfielder after trying to score from third on a fly ball.
Piley disagreed with the umpire’s call, to no avail.
But Richey, who pitched all three regional games for Humboldt, was there to ensure Riverton could not take advantage.
Richey surrendered two first-inning runs — something of a rarity this season — but settled down nicely after that. She allowed six hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts.
Richey aided her own cause at the plate with four hits, including two doubles, and two RBIs. Kline rapped out four singles with a stolen base and RBI. Riebel had a double and RBI. Brook Turner and Morgan Morris each had two singles. Megan Herder had a single and double.
THERE WASN’T nearly as much drama in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Southeast of Cherokee, a 12-2 Lady Cub romp.
Humboldt scored eight in the third to take a 10-2 lead. Two more runs in the fifth ended the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
Richey gave up three hits with a walk and nine strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Riebel had three hits, including a double, with three RBIs. Kline had a single and triple with two RBIs. Richey and Brook Turner each had a triple. Megan Hudlin had a double and stolen base. Morris and Kasey Beeman each had a single and RBI. Jaci Ross and Herder singled.
“Courtney was awesome on the mound,” Piley said. “We played three good teams to win regionals, St. Mary’s Colgan (on Monday), Southeast and Riverton. I am very proud of our girls.”