Brooke VunCannon knew time was running out on her Truman High School teammates as they faced Lee’s Summit North Friday in the Greater Kansas City Softball Tournament.
With the score knotted at 0-0 in the top of the seventh inning at Adair Park, the Truman shortstop ripped a triple to right-center field. Emily VanCompernolle followed with a bullet to shortstop and VunCannon used a head-first slide to score the lone run of the game and make Paige Parker a winner again.
Parker allowed just one hit and struck out 15 to raise her season total to 30 in just two starts. For the second game in a row, she allowed no runs and just one hit.
“I missed our first two games with a deep bruise on my thumb,” VunCannon said, “so I felt like I needed to do something. It was the seventh, there was no score, and we needed to get something going.”
Truman coach Amy Temples lavished praise on VunCannon for reading the hit and making it all the way to third.
“Brooke did what you need to do in a game where you’re struggling offensively,” Temples said after the Patriots improved to 3-0. “She read the ball real well. When the center fielder missed it, Brooke didn’t break stride and made it to third.
“Then, she made a great head-first slide at home. We needed that run. This is the best hitting team, one through nine, of any team we’ve had, and we didn’t do much today. But we found a way to score and to win and that’s what’s important.”
Parker faced one pressure situation in the bottom of the fifth when the leadoff hitter struck out, but reached first on a passed ball. Parker then walked a batter, but retired the next three batters – two on strikeouts.
“Our defense was amazing today,” Parker said. “They tried to play small ball, and we did a great job fielding their bunts. And the girls fielded everything that was hit at them. That made my job easier out on the mound.”
The Patriots’ unsung hero was VanCompernolle, who solved starter Sarah Lewis for the game’s lone RBI.
“I wanted to get that ball in play,” VanCompernolle said. “I wanted to do it with no outs. I wanted to eliminate the pressure, the tension. It was such a close game, because their pitcher really did a great job.”
Lee’s Summit North coach John Gage took the loss in stride.
“Paige is a great pitcher and Sarah pitched a great game,” Gage said. “I sure didn’t see them winning it with an opening triple. But give (VunCannon) credit, she really hit the ball. And she made a great slide at home. She slid right around the tag. It’s a tough game to lose, but it was sure a well-pitched game by both teams.”
Truman will face the winner of the Liberty-Lee’s Summit West game at noon Saturday at Adair Park. North plays the Liberty-West loser at 9 a.m. in the consolation bracket.
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC