LONE GROVE — For some teams, a sunny Friday afternoon with a raucous crowd might seem like a distraction in the middle of a regional championship game.

LONE GROVE — For some teams, a sunny Friday afternoon with a raucous crowd might seem like a distraction in the middle of a regional championship game.

But when it comes to the Lone Grove Lady Horns, anything but a sunny day with a standing room only crowd for the regional finals just wouldn’t seem right.

This combination once again served the Lady Horns softball well, as they managed to win the programs 14th regional title and a trip back to the state tournament with a 5-2 victory over Tecumseh.

“Every year is a new year, and this bunch is a fun group to coach,” Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller said. “These girls play hard and work hard. To see the way they have grown through the year and gotten better has been so much fun for me to witness.”

While the Lady Horns might sport four seniors on the team this season, it was a group of underclassmen who made perhaps the biggest plays of the game on Friday.

Leading 2-0 in the top of the sixth, the Lady Horns were pegged back by Tecumseh, who got a pair of runs to tie the game at 2-2.

With two outs, the Lady Savages got a single to center field, sending potentially the go-ahead run to the plate to score.

However, freshman Logan Ketchum sent a dart straight to catcher Logan Graves who applied a successful block and tag of the runner at home, resulting in the third out of the inning.

The moment brought a stark contrast of emotions from both dugouts as Lone Grove celebrated, while the Tecumseh coaching staff rushed furiously out of the dugout to argue the call at home plate, which came to no avail.

“I honestly wasn’t thinking, my adrenaline was so high at that point,” Ketchum said about the throw. “I’d honestly have to say that God made that throw happen. It’s amazing to be able to go to state with these girls, they are like my second family.”

“This feels like tradition to me,” Graves said about going to state for the second straight year. “I had full confidence in Logan (Ketchum) and I knew that she was going to make a play and that I was going to back her up. She couldn’t have thrown it any more perfect.” 

Lone Grove didn’t take long to cash in on their break.

In the bottom of the sixth, Malea McMuretey laid down a bunt which resulted in a throwing error at first base. 

Noa Dodson managed to cross the plate before the resulting throw could reach the Lady Savages catcher, giving the Lady Horns a crucial 3-2 advantage.

Emmy Guthrie would step up two batters later and send a two-RBI single to left field, putting the Lady Horns up 5-2 heading to the top of the seventh.

“Any time you get into a playoff situation, your younger players are going to have to step up,” Miller said. “Ours certainly did today, and they have all year long. I’m proud of the way they played today and it’s exciting for our future as well to see them play like this.”

Abbi Atkinson gave the Lady Horns a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a fielder’s choice RBI, before she registered an RBI groundout in the bottom of the fifth which doubled the advantage.

Guthrie got the win on the mound for the Lady Horns, throwing a complete game. She allowed two earned runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts and zero walks.

“My team is my family, and to be able to keep the season going with them is amazing,” Guthrie said. “My confidence in these girls is sky high, and they have as much confidence in me as well. That play by Logan (Ketchum) and Logan (Graves) was huge for us and really shifted the momentum.”

Lone Grove (25-7) will play in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Thursday against an opponent to be named later this week. 

The state tournament will take place this year at Firelake Casino in Shawnee.