After bouncing back Wednesday from its first loss of the season, a defeat it suffered without the state’s top pitcher, the Truman softball team received some news that made the Patriots’ day even brighter.
While Truman defeated intra-city rival William Chrisman 11-5 at Adair Park, it won’t have to try to win the balance of the season minus Paige Parker.
With freshman Victoria Morrow and junior lefty Madi Vanderlinden tag-teaming on pitching duties, the Patriots tapped and belted their way to 13 hits in support while improving to 8-1.
Parker, the reigning Gatorade Missouri Player of the Year who guided the Patriots to a state championship last fall and is committed to play at Oklahoma, had missed Tuesday’s loss at Lee’s Summit West with a balky right knee. But Truman coach Amy Temples said a doctor’s visit showed no damage beyond swelling and inflammation.
“She received full clearance. She’ll rehab, and we’ll probably ease her back,” Temples said of her senior lefty. “The Ozark Tournament (this weekend) will be a good time for that; not that I would’ve pitched her five games in a row anyway. I would’ve hated to see her senior season end early. She’s done too much for this program to have that happen.”
Morrow started Wednesday, and the Patriots staked her to a 4-0 lead through two innings. Vanderlinden relieved her during Chrisman’s three-run third inning and went 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing four hits and a walk and leaving the bases loaded in the fifth.
Morrow came back out and handled the sixth before running into some trouble in the seventh, as the Bears’ Celine Armstrong singled in Jessica Kreissler for an unearned run, then came around to score on three wild pitches. Morrow walked two more before first baseman Kayla Harrell’s leaping catch ended the game.
“Our pitching staff outside of Paige is just young,” Temples said. “Replacing Paige, that’s pressure in itself. “Madi pitched JV last year; she came in and did fine. To start out, we’ll have to team them up. Victoria is plenty good; she just has to throw strikes. That’s been her problem – control.”
Truman’s first five batters reached base, four of them on hits, and three came around to score. In the second, Sara Jeffress singled with two outs, stole second and came all the way home when the throw skipped into center field.
Chrisman’s third-inning rally started when Deja Hall legged out an infield chopper and stole second before Kyana Mason’s bunt single and stolen base. A grounder and wild pitch allowed them to score, and after a walk and wild pitch Ravyn Swope’s two-out single plated Armstrong.
“We came out kind of flat and not real intense,” said Chrisman coach Lindsey Ramsey, whose team fell to 4-7. “Then, one of our captains, Emilie Garner, she rallied up the girls and got ’em going again like a leader does.”
Truman responded with a four-run fourth to make it 8-3. A high throw to first and two singles loaded the bases with one out, and the runs came on Brooke VunCannon’s walk, Tori Zorich’s fielder’s choice grounder, a wild pitch and Emily VanCompernolle’s single up the middle.
Jeffress tacked on a two-run double in the sixth, and Zorich doubled in the sixth and scored on Maya Coen’s single.
“It was nice to get that going, because we’ve been struggling with barreling up the ball,” Temples said. “Sara Jeffress did a good job at the plate, and we’ve got a lot of kids that hit the ball hard. We just need to start doing that again.”
Temples said she reminded her players not to forget the techniques that make them good hitters.
“I think they were starting to feel pressure, and I don’t want them to feel pressure,” she said.
Jeffress, who had three of Truman’s hits and scored three times, pointed out another area where the Patriots generally clicked Wednesday.
“I think it’s also good defensive work going into the tournament, because with Paige we don’t see much defense,” Jeffress said.
Shay Tolbert, Zorich and VanCompernolle notched two hits apiece for Truman. Morrow got the win, yielding three hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Taylor Wiskur went the distance in the circle for Chrisman, and Swope finished with two hits.
“About midway through we started to lose focus,” Ramsey said, “and again, we had some girls pick us up and help us get a couple more runs.
“We’re putting runs on the board and making plays. We just need to always make the routine plays, and maybe make an outstanding one when we need it.”