Ellis Rallies to Capture Elusive K-18 State Softball Title; Russell Finishes Runner-up

The Russell K-18 fastpitch softball team took second place at the third annual K-18 State Tournament on Sunday, July 17 in Lucas. (Photo by Mike Blanke)
The Russell K-18 fastpitch softball team took second place at the third annual K-18 State Tournament on Sunday, July 17 in Lucas. (Photo by Mike Blanke)

LUCAS-Staked to a 6-0 lead after two and a half innings, the Russell K-18 fastpitch softball team positioned itself for a repeat of last year's state championship run, but at the end of the day, Ellis won the crown for the first time.

Ellis used seven-run rallies in the third and fourth innings to run away with a 14-6 victory at the Lucas baseball field on Sunday afternoon, July 17 to claim their first K-18 State title in the third annual state tournament. Ellis lost the inaugural K-18 state championship game to Norton 7-6 in 2020 before Russell steamrolled them last year 14-0.

Russell struck for a run in the top of the first inning before Ellis seemingly took the lead on a sacrifice fly that ultimately led to two runs following a throwing error to give them a 2-1 advantage. However, Russell coach Brandi Powers contended that an Ellis runner left third base too early and the umpiring crew agreed, allowing Russell to hold its slim lead.

After neither team scored in the second frame, Russell took advantage of Ellis errors, used aggressive baserunning to score five runs and built the margin to 6-0 heading to the bottom of the third. However, Ellis, which was the tournament favorite, woke up and scored seven runs with Russell recording one out to grab the lead. A team's time at bat automatically ends when seven runs are scored. Russell was retired in order in the top of the fourth and then Ellis scored seven more runs, the last on a wild pitch to clinch the championship.

Sydney Kraus started in the pitcher's circle for Russell (9-7) but was relieved by Tionna Napue in the bottom of the third. Napue ended up taking the loss.

In Sunday's third place game, Phillipsburg rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to knock off Osborne 11-10 after Osborne had scored three runs in the top of the frame to take the lead.

First Place: Ellis
Second Place: Russell
Third Place: Phillipsburg
Sportsmanship Award: Osborne