Wildcat Softball Gains Momentum, Splits with Augusta

Ethan Denton

EL DORADO, Kansas–The 2021 season has been a struggle so far for the El Dorado Wildcat softball team. And coming into Thursday home doubleheader against the defending 4A champion Augusta Orioles, it seemed as if those struggles would surely continue.

The Orioles entered with a high-powered offense that was averaging over 12 runs per game. But the Wildcats were determined to shift the course of their season, and they took a big step in doing so as they earned the split with Augusta.

“Our Monday practice, we came out, hustled and did a great job,” El Dorado head coach Dommi Locke said. “Tuesday, Wednesday, everything was perfect. We got better and it was so different from the weeks before.”

Game 1: Augusta 6, El Dorado 4

The first game of the doubleheader started with a duel between each team’s ace. Morgan Pennycuff of the Orioles and Jamison McCaig of the Wildcats each started with a pair of scoreless innings.

Augusta would get on the board in the 3rd inning courtesy of Ashlyn Bowen’s RBI single which scored Kinleigh Haskell. Bowen came home when Pennycuff reached on an error.

The Wildcats tied it up in the bottom half. A pair of walks led to two runs, the second of which came on Bailey Camien’s RBI single.

The teams traded runs in the 4th and neither side scored in the 5th. It was 3-3 going to the 6th inning and the Orioles went back in front on Ivory Rightnar’s RBI single. Augusta added two insurance runs in the 7th for a 6-3 lead.

A pair of Augusta errors helped El Dorado get a run across in the 7th but Pennycuff shut the door to give the Orioles the win.

Game 2: El Dorado 9, Augusta 6

After coming close to getting an upset in the first game, El Dorado’s window seemed to be closing when Augusta started fast in the second game with a three-run first inning, on their way to building a 6-2 lead in the 3rd inning.

The Wildcats were undeterred.

They began making consistent contact and collected base hits left and right. In the third inning with two runners on, Manning stepped up and launched a three-run home run that just got over the fence in left field. Just like that, it was 6-5.

Freshman pitcher Quinn Houseman settled down and kept the Orioles off the board in the fourth. El Dorado came up and kept hitting. They tied the score and then Manning stepped up to the plate again. She wasted no time, blasting another three-run homer to straight away center.

“Kaylee Manning was a stud today,” Locke said. “She came out and told me she was going to hit some home runs. I believe her now.”

The Wildcats led 9-6 and the momentum and energy level had shifted completely.

Coach Locke brought McCaig back out to pitch and hold the lead. She recorded three quick outs in the 5th and kept Augusta off the board in the 6th. 

The Wildcats were not able to add to their lead going to the 7th. McCaig needed three outs against a tough lineup. Augusta was able to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. But a fly ball and strikeout ended the game and the Wildcats earned the win and the split of the doubleheader.

Now that El Dorado has tasted success, Locke is determined to keep this momentum going for her team.

“The girls just asked if they could have weights off in the morning and I said nope,” Locke said with a smile. “So we are back to work in the morning at 6am. We have to keep pushing through.”

Augusta 6, El Dorado 4

AUG 002 101 2 – 6 6 5

ELD 002 100 1 – 4 6 3

W – Pennycuff. L – McCaig.

El Dorado 9, Augusta 6

AUG 312 000 0 – 6 9 2

ELD 023 400 x – 9 12 3

W –McCaig. L – Barnett. HR – ELD: Manning (2).