The sun that baked Adair Park Wednesday afternoon had to take a back seat to the sizzle provided by the defending Class 4 state champion Truman High School softball team.
All-state pitcher Paige Parker and the Patriots claimed a season-opening 16-0 Pool A victory over Raytown South in the opening game of the Kansas City Metro Tournament. They followed that with an 18-3 drubbing of North Kansas City to win their pool.
Parker, the reigning Examiner Player of the Year and the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, recorded all 15 outs with strikeouts in the first game, a five-inning mercy win. She also collected two hits, drove in two runs and her designated runner scored twice.
Not a bad way to start the season.
“When you go out in the bottom of the first inning and you have a 6-0 lead, it really helps your confidence,” said Parker, who always makes a point of highlighting the support she receives from her offensive-minded teammates. “You could see the whole team's confidence grow as the game went along. But this is just the first game, the first step towards our ultimate goal (of defending the state title). But we're not thinking about state. We're just thinking about our next opponent.”
While Parker was nearly unhittable – she allowed a two-out double to South's Karlee Turley in the fifth inning – the Patriots collected 18 hits in their first game of the season.
Emily VanCompernolle was the biggest thorn in the Cardinals' side as she stroked four hits, scored two runs and drove in a run. Every hitter in the Truman lineup had at least one hit and scored a run or drove home a run.
“Of course, Paige went out and set the tone on the mound, and we did our best to support her,” VanCompernolle said. “Our offense really feeds off each other and Paige – or whoever is on the mound. When you score six runs in the first inning, you're pretty confident that you're going to win the game.
“We've seen Paige do some great things, and she was great today.”
Catcher Maya Coen said Parker used her rise pitch to perfection throughout the afternoon.
“It was working when she was warming up and they had trouble with it in the game,” Coen said, “so we just went with it.”
Coen led the game off with a single and reached third on a two-base error. Parker drove her home with a sacrifice fly. Tory Zorich and VanCompernolle followed with a single and scored on the third error of the inning.
Page 2 of 2 - Victoria Morrow then singled and No. 9 hitter Kendra Amos stroked a two-run double. By the time the smoke had cleared it was 6-0.
“We have a lot of humble kids, kids who are going to work hard to have another successful season,” Truman coach Amy Temples said. “And it's nothing I've done – I'm just blessed to have great kids who make up a team that we hope will have a lot of success this season.”
Truman added two more runs in the second on RBIs by Parker and Shay Tolbert and broke the game open with a six-run fourth inning.
Coen finished the game with two hits; Sara Jeffress added a single; Parker had a single and double; Zorich totaled three hits; Tolbert two hits; Kayla Harrell a hit; Morrow two hits; and Amos the two-run double.
“It's a great start,” Temples said. “I'm proud of the effort I saw out there. South is a good team. They have a very good pitcher (Summer Williams, who suffered the loss) and a strong center fielder (Kaori Corn). We played them in the jamboree and I liked their team a lot.
“So this is a quality win against a quality team. Now, we turn our attention to the next game and the rest of the season.”
Truman followed with an 18-3 three-inning victory over North Kansas City. Starting pitcher Madison Vanderlinden allowed only two hits and struck two and Parker slugged a three-run homer.
VanCompernolle singled twice with one RBI, Tolbert singled and tripled with three RBIs and Harrell doubled with three RBIs to help lead the Patriots (2-0).
Truman, as the Pool A winner, will meet the Pool B champion at 4 p.m. Friday in the championship bracket.
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC