By Brian Rathjen
NT Sports Editor
ATLANTIC — To a fan, there was the feeling that Carroll Kuemper would come out swinging against Atlantic.
It’s the post-season, the Knights were the underdogs, having lost twice to the Trojans, that’s what everyone expected.
They didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure.
A four-run first inning, punctuated by a two-run Kenzie Schon home run that bounced off the center field light pole, gave the Knights the momentum they needed, while Atlantic tied it just once in a 6-5 first-round upset Wednesday night on the Trojans’ home softball field.
“They came out and hit the ball real well,” said coach Terry Hinzmann, whose team bows out of the post-season at 27-9. “I don’t know if Liv (Olivia Engler) had her best stuff that first inning, she kind of settled in after that and did a pretty decent job. The bad thing is she got the ball up on a couple of them.
“You’ve got to give Kuemper credit for taking advantage of the situation and putting the bat on the ball.”
Schon’s home run put the Knights up 3-0, and it was made worse when Anna Wanninger got on via a three-base error and scored on a passed ball.
The Trojans never quit, and it was Baylee Newell who slid under the tag on Engler’s single to right in the bottom half of the first.
The fourth inning gave the Trojans hope. Down 5-1, Engler laced a one-out single to score two runs to cut the Knights’ lead to 5-3, and Alyssa Derby greeted reliever Kamryn Venner with a two-run RBI of her own to score the Rush sisters, Ava and Karsyn.
But the Knights struck back in the bottom of the fifth off Isabel Schwabe’s RBI single. The Trojans had two on in the bottom of the seventh with one away, but could not capitalize as Newell’s fly ball to left was caught in foul territory to seal the upset.
The Trojans out-hit Kuemper 11-6, but stranded two or more runners at least three times and could not get the key hit when they needed it.
“They executed plays in the ballgame whereas we didn’t do that. That’s the story of the ballgame,” said Hinzmann.
The Trojans (27-9) say farewell to two seniors: Newell and Karsyn Rush. Hinzmann had good words to say for both, wishing them both well in the future as they head to Kansas University and the University of Iowa, respectively.
The Trojans will bring back just two juniors. Fourteeen players are sophomores or younger.
“I think when you get back and settled in look at the season you’ll find we actually had a lot of positives and accomplished a lot of things,” said Hinzmann.