May 24, 2023

Lady Cardinals look to improve upon 2022 finish at 1-2A state tournament

Posted May 24, 2023 1:01 PM

Salina Post contributor

Salina Ortho logo.png
Salina Ortho logo.png

After a perfect 23-0 season met its end at the 1-2A state tournament last season, the Ell-Saline softball team wasted no time punching a ticket for a return trip, and will enter this year’s bracket in Pratt as the 4-seed.

The Lady Cardinals have decimated their opponents this year, scoring double digits in 16 of their 21 games, culminating in a wild run differential of +161.

“Our strength this year is in our bats,” Ell-Saline head coach Kris Bell said. “We have a couple of power bats but we also have some girls who can lay down bunts so between small-ball and swinging it we have a lot of versatility.”

Those electric performances at the plate have allowed the Lady Cards to plate 270 runs this season, and were called upon once more at regionals last week as Ell-Saline sat down Little River, Bennington, and Hays TMP to secure their spot in Pratt.

With plenty of run support, the Cardinals have turned to star pitcher Gabby Norris in the circle, and Norris has delivered, keeping opposing lineups off-balance all season long.

“Gabby has really stepped up for us,” Bell said. “She didn’t pitch any varsity ball with our staff filled out last year but she’s taken on that role and been great this year.”

Now, the Lady Cardinals can turn all of their attention to state and to a first-round matchup with 16-3 Jayhawk-Linn as Ell-Saline looks to further improve upon a fourth-place finish at last year’s tournament.

“I’d like to see the girls walk out of there in the top four,” she said. “We would love to walk out as number one, we’ve got the talent and if they keep the same mindset they had at regionals they have the potential to really challenge the top teams.”

In order to make that kind of postseason run, the Lady Cards must avoid getting too eager at the dish, something they have done a much better job of as the campaign has progressed.

“We have to be patient at the plate,” Bell said. “That’s something we struggled with early but have gotten better at as the season has gone on. We need to see pitches for what they are and not chase. Defensively we also have to make sure we clean up our errors.”

First pitch between the Lady Cardinals and Jayhawks is set for 7:00 on Field A at the Pratt-Green Sports Complex on Thursday, May 25th.

For continuing coverage of Ell-Saline softball all season long, stay tuned to the Salina Post.