Chapman's gem helps FHSU earn split

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
FHSU's Hailey Chapman, right, hugs catcher Sara Breckbill after Chapman tossed a complete-game shutout in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader with Missouri Western.

Looking to help her team bounce back and earn a split against Missouri Western on Sunday, Fort Hays State senior pitcher Hailey Chapman did her best not to overthink things in the circle.

"I've been really kind of mental lately in my head. It felt really good to go out there and instead of focusing on the end result, I was just focusing on the next pitch," Chapman said. 

That approach paid off big time for Chapman, who tossed a complete-game shutout to carry the Tigers to a 1-0 win in Game 2 on Sunday at Tiger Stadium. FHSU took a 9-0 run-rule loss to the Griffons in the first game. 

It was a gem for Chapman, who out-dueled Missouri Western's Kaili Hinds to get the split for the Tigers. FHSU moved to 19-17 overall and 12-6 in the MIAA. Western sits 24-12 and 13-5 in the MIAA. 

"I'm really proud of Hailey," FHSU coach Adrian Pilkington said. "She did some things (Saturday against Northwest Missouri) and wanted some feedback on how she could be better for the team today. She went out there and executed."

The Tigers are fifth in the MIAA standings in terms of winning percentage, but they're just two games back in the loss column of first place Central Oklahoma, which sits 16-4. 

"It was huge," Chapman said of the Game 2 win. "It was a big deal for us because a lot of games this season haven't been going our way, and sometimes that's just how it goes. In this game, we kind of took it into our own hands."

"It would have been easy to kind of come out flat and fold over after the first one, and they didn't," Pilkington added. "They just shifted their focus and they worried about the game that was in front of them."

The Tigers managed just two hits against Hinds, but Katie Adler delivered a big one in the bottom of the sixth, leading off with a bloop single to left. Lily Sale then drew a walk and Grace Philop put down a bunt. Western tried to get the lead runner at third on Philop's bunt, but Adler beat the throw to load the bases. 

Sara Breckbill then drove in the lone run with a sac fly to right. 

"We definitely went up there with the approach of just having quality at-bats and playing textbook softball, and they saw the benefits of that," Pilkington said. 

Chapman then put away the Griffons with a perfect seventh. 

"All I thought about was throwing the next strike and locating my next pitch, because we kind of had them down to where we wanted them and we knew where to throw every pitch," she said. 

Chapman, a fifth-year senior from Salina, said the Tigers have been trending in the right direction. 

"It's been amazing," Chapman said. "The last couple of years, me and Lily have been able to see the team grow. When we started our freshman year we didn't have a very good record. Each year we just kind of focused on new things and got better, figured out or team chemistry, figured out what works. It's been really great."

The Tigers will now look to solidify their spot in the MIAA Tournament, one of the goals that Chapman had for her senior season. 

"That would be huge," Chapman said. "That's like all I want for my senior year. We got  really close (to making the conference tournament) my junior year and then COVID happened last year. So this is what I came back for."

Fort Hays State hosts Rogers State and Northeastern State on Friday and Saturday this week.

"We're just focused on one game at a time and trying to do the right things," Pilkington said. "Obviously we got some good games coming up so we're just focused on our game and controlling what we can control. We're looking to climb to the top."