Lee’s Summit played for the opportunity to make one play that could upend the defending state champion Truman softball team Saturday.
Playing on their home diamond, the Tigers (22-6) got that opportunity thanks to one break going their way, and another break allowed them to take advantage and notch the game’s lone tally for a 1-0 Class 4 state quarterfinal at windy Legacy Park.
Lee’s Summit’s unearned run came in the top of the sixth courtesy of a passed ball, and junior pitcher Emily Robinson made it stand with a no-hitter that barely topped the no-hitter fired by Paige Parker in her final game for Truman (28-4).
“We didn’t hit the ball enough,” said Truman coach Amy Temples, whose team was bidding for a third state semifinal berth in four years. “It was a pitchers’ duel; they got away with one and we didn’t.”
Parker fielded Sydney Graham’s leadoff bunt in the sixth and threw her out. But No. 9 hitter Brittany Kendall also bunted, the sixth straight Tiger batter to attempt a bunt (one missed for strike three), and third baseman Tori Zorich’s throw to first skipped in the dirt and second baseman Sara Jeffress couldn’t make a clean snag.
With Bailey Baird batting, Kendall stole second base, and Baird’s groundout moved Kendall to third. Maureen Mosier then squared to bunt a pitch, which appeared to be deflected and went past Truman catcher Maya Coen to the backstop. Kendall came home without a challenge.
The umpires conferred and upheld the call of no foul ball, and the Tigers had the lead. Mosier seemed content to look at strike three and head back to the field as the second baseman.
“I thought it was a foul tip, but there’s a lot going on at the plate,” Temples said. “I trust the umpiring crew, if none of the three saw it (foul tip).
“It’s not the way you ever want to lose a ballgame.”
“I just got to home as fast as I could for a play,” added Parker, who otherwise yielded an inconsequential ground-ball error in the second and struck out nine, finishing her senior season 23-2 with nine no-hitters. “I thought it was a foul ball.”
Lee’s Summit coach Tracy Bertoncin, whose team plays Parkway North in Friday’s state semis at Springfield’s Killian Softball Complex, said Mosier missed the bunt by several inches.
“We were looking for a push bunt,” Bertoncin said. “The kid at the plate is quick, and we just wanted to create an opportunity.
“I teased her afterwards and said, ‘It’s the best mistake of your career.’”
By design, Robinson immediately put the tying run on base, intentionally walking Parker to start the bottom of the sixth. Coen sacrificed the courtesy runner to second, but Mosier raced to catch Brooke VunCannon’s pop-up in foul territory and Zorich’s fly ball into the wind died in the glove of right fielder Kendall. Robinson pitched a perfect seventh, Mosier snagging Kendra Amos’ line drive for the final out.
Robinson, who struck out eight and issued two other intentional walks to Parker, said she figured it would take a shutout to best Parker. She made a living with her fastball on the outside corner, as the Patriots couldn’t get around on it and hit every batted ball to the right side.
“That pitch was working today, so I tried to keep doing that,” Robinson said. “No walks; I was going to have to really attack.”
“We knew that we were playing for one run and perfect defense,” Bertoncin said. “Emily’s not a person that feels compelled to strike everybody out. She understands team defense, and she pitched to get outs.”
Figuring the Tigers would copy Truman’s previous two tournament foes and walk Parker – a .600 hitter with nine home runs this season – Temples tried to force their hand and moved Parker from the 3-hole to leadoff, switching her with VunCannon.
“I thought in leading Paige off, if we get a sacrifice down and move her, I’ve got my third-best and second-best hitters up,” Temples said. “We just didn’t get the bunt down; we popped it up. We had talked about it a lot, and we finally decided to go with it.”
After walking Parker a second time in the third inning, Robinson also walked Coen but fanned VunCannon to end the inning.
“I had the utmost confidence in my team,” Parker said. “It’s just really disappointing how it ended.”
In addition to Parker, Coen, Kayla Harrell, Jeffress, Emily VanCompernolle and Zorich played their final softball games as Patriots.
“I’m incredibly proud of this group,” Temples said. “This senior class has accomplished more than any other. You don’t want one loss to overshadow what they’ve done for the program.”