Not much helps a new varsity pitcher more than entering the circle for the first time with a lead.
In Thursday’s pool F play of the Greater Kansas City Softball Tournament at Adair Park, Blue Springs South sophomore Erin Griesbauer and senior Megan Schwindler each inherited a lead and had a sterling season debut in the circle, pacing the Jaguars to a pair of five-inning victories.
Griesbauer, who played in the outfield last season, got the win as South beat St. Joseph Central 5-2 in a game shortened by the time limit. Then, Schwindler and sophomore Skyler Robinson combined on a no-hitter as the Jaguars mercy-ruled St. Teresa’s Academy 11-0.
Griesbauer, also batting leadoff against Central, drew a walk, moved around on an error and came home on Mariah Bierman’s sacrifice fly before toeing the rubber in the first inning.
Schwindler, who had pitched the final inning against St. Joseph Central, started with a 2-0 lead against St. Teresa’s.
“That was a big deal,” Blue Springs South coach Kristi Williams said. “I have one kid that’s a returning pitcher in Megan, and she was hurt last year, so getting that lead helps them be more comfortable.”
Against Central, South added two runs in the third when Bailey Autrey singled in Madi Giles and senior shortstop Shannon Hughes, who like Schwindler missed last season due to injury, came home on a wild pitch.
When the Indians plated a run off Griesbauer in the bottom half, the Jaguars came back with two more runs when Julia Woelbel bunted in Chelsey Tipton and Griesbauer, who reached on a bunt single, score on Giles’ sacrifice fly.
Griesbauer finished with five strikeouts against three hits and walk in her four innings, before St. Joe Central managed another run off Schwindler in the fifth. Bailey Wilcoxson took the loss for the Indians.
“We got some of the jitters out,” Williams said. “That’s why I like this tournament. You get to see some different teams you might not play, you get the jitters out and get to mess with some different lineups.
“I really feel like we have a pretty solid lineup. We have a lot of kids back, and we have some kids to fill those gaps.”
Hughes batted leadoff against St. Teresa’s and started with an infield single, and two batters later Giles singled her in. After two fielder’s choices, Harmony Clipperton plated Giles with another infield hit off Stars starter Rachel Allard.
The Jaguars’ first four batters reached base and scored in the third, and they tacked on two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth.
All told, South rapped 13 hits, led by three RBI singles from Clipperton. Woelbel, Autrey (2 RBIs) and Kaylee Vansandt (2 RBIs) added two hits apiece.
Schwindler struck out four, and allowed runners on two walks, a hit by pitch and an error. Robinson handled a perfect fifth inning.
“Harmony did a good job calling anything I wanted,” Schwindler said of her catcher. “I didn’t have to shake her off the whole game.”
Griesbauer noted that her teammates also supported the pitchers with their gloves as well as their bats.
“We’ve got a good defense behind us,” Griesbauer said. “Having that kind of team gives you a lot of confidence.”
Williams said she plans on giving Griesbauer and Schwindler split duties in the circle this season.
“I’m just kind of rotating them, and we’ll see what happens,” she said.
Both pitchers have no qualms about that arrangement.
“When I’m not doing as well as I can, it’s nice to know you have someone who can get you,” Griesbauer said.
“We complement each other,” Schwindler added. “It’s a healthy competition.”
Blue Springs South will play the pool E winner in the championship bracket at approximately 5:45 p.m. today.
Follow Mike Genet on Twitter: @genetEJC