Goodland softball at state for second time

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Last year, the Goodland High School softball team was a young squad, but entered its regional with the No. 1 seed and a 17-3 record. Coach Tess Smith said the Cowgirls had some nerves and jitters and received a surprise when they faced Larned in the first round. Larned's pitcher was supposed to be hurt with a broken finger, but was on the mound against Goodland. The Cowgirls eventually lost.

"We kind of flopped," Smith said.

This spring, Goodland brought another young team to the regional. This time, the team had more confidence and Smith said, "no self doubt." Goodland rolled over Holcomb -- a team the Cowgirls had beaten twice in the regular season -- and Russell to advance to the Class 3A state tournament with a 20-3 record.

"I have a young team," Smith said. "It's a huge accomplishment for them being so young, but it's exciting, because hopefully there are a lot of fun years ahead of us."

The Cowgirls reached their second state tournament in school history. The first came in 2003, when Goodland lost in the first round. Goodland, the No. 3 seed, will face No. 6 seed St. George-Rock Creek (17-6) today at Twin Oaks Complex in Manhattan. Game time is 7 p.m.

"I know my girls won't be happy if we go down there and lose the first round, so our goal is to make it Saturday," Smith said.

"Play hard and play well. We've got nothing to lose. That's the nice thing. Nobody on that end of the state really knows anything about us."

Goodland opened the season with two losses against Hays High School, a team that went 20-2 and advanced to the Class 5A state tournament.

Still, Smith labeled the losses "a good measuring stick" for the program.

"The bulk of my lineup was sophomores and even though we were a little nervous and we lost that second game to (the Indians), in a lot of aspects, it was a win because we put the ball in play and we played well, but we still came up on the short end," Smith said. "Teams in our league better watch out, because we were going to be out to hit the ball and we were ready to play."

After spring break, Goodland returned with two big wins against GWAC foe Scott City, 34-5 and 25-2. Sophomore Berkley White is the catcher, sophomore Megan Siruta is at first base, freshman Lindsay Bauman plays second, sophomore Brianna White is at shortstop, sophomore Gabby Rangel plays third base, senior Tasha Gaydusek is in left field, sophomore Hope Cochran is in centerfield and right field has seen several starts. Freshman Steph DeLaRosa (12-3) is the ace and the probable starter today. Cochran is the No. 2 pitcher at 8-0.

"We really don't have a weak link," Smith said.

Following the two losses to HHS, Goodland lost once, to Colby, and haven't suffered a defeat since. The Cowgirls avoided the regional loss after last spring and moved into the state field.

"We really have been on fire since the beginning," Smith said.