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Onaga Softball With a Pair of Exciting Wins in Regionals. Now Look to Take State.

If you or someone you know is both an Onaga Softball fan and may be weak at heart please check on them, because after the day the Lady Buffs had on Thursday even the calmest of individuals had their pulse racing.

It all started in the Regional Semi-Finals against the Valley Heights Mustangs. After a solid start by both pitchers, Valley Heights got on the board as Stella Martin with a 2 RBI single to Center gives Valley Heights the 2-0 lead.

Onaga would get back in it after Emmarsyn Fordham was hit by a pitch followed by a single by Dorsey, Annie Force cleared the bases with a double and we were tied at 2 headed to the 6th.

After shutting down Valley Heights in the top of the inning, Onaga looked ready to pounce. Bridgett Campbell singled and Ember Conger doubled putting two runners in scoring position but Valley Heights came through with some strong defense halting the Buffaloes.

In the 7th, when her team really needed it Willow Hochstedler was clutch. A pair of strikeouts and a ground out ends the inning quickly. In the bottom of the 7th, Valley Heights pitcher Paige Miller was just as good, she picked up her 5th strikeout of the game and after 7 innings the game was still deadlocked at 2.

Valley Heights was able to once again get a 2 out rally going again with a pair of singles by Paige and Tessa Miller but Onaga was able to keep runners at bay and again posted a 0 defensively and we went to the bottom of the 8th and the fans were on the edge of their seats.

Hochstedler, after giving a terrific performance in the circle, came to bat in the 8th still looking for her first hit. On an 0-1 count, Hochstedler dropped one in to right with a double. Addison DeChant followed with a single of her own and once again things were looking positive for the Buffaloes. With no outs and 2 on really all Abbie Ringel had to do was drop in a single or hit a deep enough sacrifice fly to get Hochstedler home from 3rd.

Instead, Abbie probably thought a classic game deserved an explosive ending and that's exactly what she did. On an 0-1 pitch, Ringel put on a solid swing that carried over the wall in left center field. A 3 run home run and the Buffaloes defeated Valley Heights 5-2.

Willow Hochstedler earned the win for Onaga Varsity Lady Buffaloes. The righty gave up three hits and zero runs over four innings, striking out six and walking none. Paige Miller took the loss for Valley Heights Varsity Mustangs. Miller went seven innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, striking out five and walking none. Bridgett Campbell stepped in the circle first for Onaga Varsity Lady Buffaloes. The righty allowed zero hits and two runs (zero earned) over four innings, striking out four and walking two.

Audra Steinfort, Tessa Miller, and Paige Miller each collected one hit for Valley Heights Varsity Mustangs but after a terrific season, the Mustangs finish 2024 12-6. In the championship game, Onaga would take on Mission Valley. The Vikings would get on the board first with a pair of singles and an RBI double to go up 1-0 after the top of the 1st. However, Onaga kept the damage minimal as Hochstedler would pick up a strike out to end the threat in the first.

From there, Onaga settled in a bit, posting zeroes in the 2nd and 3rd inning. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Buffalo offense would tie things up again, a single by DeChant and a RBI double from Bridgett Campbell made it 1 all.

Onaga had another scoring opportunity in the 4th and they took advantage. A one out single by Jadyn Haskin and a double by Annie Force set the table for DeChant to get her name in the box score with a 2 run double.

This is about the time that Buffalo fans started to buzz. In a game where runs were at a premium and with a pitcher on the mound as locked in as Hochstedler had been things were looking good for the Orange and Black. Mission Valley made it interesting in the top of the 5th with a pair of base hits and a sac fly to bring the lead down to just 1. But that was as close as the Vikings would get as the Onaga defense seemingly got stronger and Willow Hochstedler picking up a pair of strikeouts in her final 2 innings.

As the final out was collected, a ground ball to 3rd baseman Hayden Kuhlman across the diamond to Abbie Ringel, Onaga had done it. Winning the Alma-Wabaunsee regional and advancing to State.

The Buffaloes continue a terrific season and now head off to the state softball tournament in Pratt. The 19-4 Buffaloes are the 3 seed in the tournament with a first-round matchup against Central Heights May 23rd at 3pm.

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