Stockam with walk-off hit, 19 K’s to lead Maize South softball to 5A semifinals

She didn’t want to admit it, but Sophie Stockam was tired.

The Maize South junior had toiled in the circle into the ninth inning of Thursday’s quarterfinal game in the Class 5A state tournament at Wilkins Stadium, but now the season was on the line as Topeka Seaman was threatening with two runners on.

“Can’t think about it,” Stockam told herself. “Just keep throwing.”

Stockam escaped the jam unscathed, then pushed through the fatigue to walk it off with her bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with a single through the right side to lift No. 2 seed Maize South to a dramatic 3-2 win over Seaman.

The Mavericks (26-3) will face either Bishop Carroll or Basehor-Linwood in Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinal.

On top of the game-winning hit, Stockam used 175 pitches to strike out 19 hitters, walk eight and allow just two hits. She improved to 15-0 this season with a 1.63 ERA and 197 strikeouts in just 94 innings.

“Sophie has been a total beast all year,” Maize South coach Cody Stucky said. “You keep asking her, ‘How are you doing?’ And she kept saying, ‘Leave me in.’ When you’re undefeated with that many strikeouts, you’ve got to let her keep rolling. There’s no tomorrow unless you win today, so you just keep rolling with her.”

After Seaman took an early 2-0 lead, Maize South equalized in the bottom of the fourth on a single by Camren Moses that plated two. From there, Stockam silenced the Seaman bats to buy time for her own offense.

Stockam would occasionally run into trouble — usually base-runners from her own free passes — but she almost always extinguished the threat with a strikeout when she needed it.

“What impresses me the most about Sophie is her ability to come back from a walk or a hit batter,” Maize South catcher Lizzy Lassley said. “It’s just the way she battles back and throws strikes. We have so much confidence in her.”

Maize South’s ninth-inning rally actually began with two straight outs, but Lassley reached base on a catcher’s interference call. Kylie Thornquist followed with a single to move the winning run to third base, then Stockam delivered in the clutch with a hard-hit ball that found a hole through the right side of the infield.

“I was hoping (the Seaman defender) wouldn’t dive for it,” Stockam said. “I was just relieved.”

Relief is the perfect way to describe the feeling for the Mavericks, who were just focused on surviving and advancing.

“Our whole focus this year has been to make it to the last day of the season,” Stucky said. “Get to that final four and then crazy things can happen.”