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5A softball: Perfect season caps Carroll seniors’ perfect four-year run

Published May 30 at 5:51 p.m. | Last updated June 13 at 7:30 a.m.

The Bishop Carroll softball team extended its streak of state championships to four with an 11-0 victory over Maize South that felt scripted.

Jessi Haffner threw a two-hit shutout, Brittany Finney crushed two home runs and Morgan Balderas ended the game early with a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Two of the Golden Eagles’ biggest contributors were seniors, and they ended their careers in storybook fashion, celebrating another trophy.

“This is unlike anything I have ever felt,” Finney said. “To be a part of a school that has four is an honor. It is bigger than I am.”

Bishop Carroll’s senior class will be remembered as one of the most successful groups in state history.

It won four consecutive 5A state softball titles, with Haffner on the mound for all four championship games. It went 25-0 this season. They faced pressure to repeat, but it never showed.

“There was so much more pressure to repeat this year and get things done,” Haffner said. “I have been fortunate enough to do this four straight years. I was hoping the fourth year would be perfect, and it was.”

Added Balderas: “A four-peat is almost impossible, but we did it. I would say we were very talented. It’s good we all stayed together and we all played together. We were really comfortable with each other after four years. I would say we are one of the best. We really meshed well together and got it done as a team.”

It helped that four members of the team — Hunter Hogan (Wichita State), Lauren Buchanan (Colorado State), Haffner (Oklahoma State) and Finney (Oklahoma) — are skilled enough to continue playing at the Division I level. On Friday, Carroll piled up five of its nine hits and seven of its 11 runs against Wichita State recruit Kelsey Sterneker. Haffner didn’t allow a runner to get into scoring position.

Of course, first-year coach Steve Harshberger thinks there was more to the latest championship run than raw ability.

“They are all talented, but Bishop Carroll isn’t the end goal,” Harshberger said. “They are all going on to play in college. Day in and day out they didn’t come out and screw around. If you did screw around you got yelled at. That’s the type of leadership the seniors and juniors provided. They didn’t let us get away from work this year. You had to come and you had to be serious. That’s what makes this group special.”

And a dynasty.

“To win four state championships, that’s pretty special for the program,” Harshberger said. “I has been done by a lot of different kids with a lot of different coaches. Now we need to try and get five in a row, but that is a special group. You don’t win four state championships in a row. It doesn’t happen. Jessi Haffner and Hunter Hogan, those two, started all four years. Morgan and Brittany have been a part of it.

“I have thought a lot about (our legacy). Put us with all the undefeated state champions and we are just honored to be on that list.”

Carroll 11, Maize South 0

Maize South0000000 2 0
Bishop Carroll304004119 1

W — Haffner. L — Sterneker. HR — Carroll, Finney 2.

Carroll 18, Kapaun 1

Kapaun Mt. Carmel10001 2 5
Bishop Carroll473418 11 0

W — Finney. L — Pounds. HR —Carroll, Buchanan, Hayes 2.

Maize South 1, Seaman 0

Maize South00000011 5 1
Topeka Seaman00000000 2 3

W — Sterneker. L — Reed.

Seaman 14, Kapaun 3

Kapaun Mt. Carmel200100x3 7 1
Topeka Seaman112037x14 17 1

W — Smith. L — Ross.

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