One thing that has consistently been an Achilles’ heel for the William Chrisman softball team all year has been its defense.
That was no different in Thursday’s Class 4 District 15 first-round game against No. 4 seed Winnetonka. The Bears committed six errors and allowed the Griffins to hang around because of shoddy defense, wild pitches and passed balls that provided plenty of free outs and bases.
However, the Bears made up for it with their biggest strength – their offense.
Chrisman racked up 16 hits and used a seven-run first inning to defeat Winnetonka 14-9 at Excelsior Springs High School.
The Bears advance to the district semifinals to play No. 1 seed Liberty at 1 p.m. today.
“We have hit the ball really well all year and have been aggressive on the bases, which is why we have scored so many runs,” Chrisman coach Lindsey Ramsey said. “We just need to make the plays on defense and cut down on silly mistakes.”
The Bears (13-12) sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning and the inning was highlighted by a pair of two-run singles from Tawnie Griffin, who was 3-for-4, and Kendra Vanderman.
Adrianna Solary pitched a solid game, allowing eight runs (four earned) on 10 hits and struck out 11 on a day in which she induced many weak ground balls.
“I was able to mix up my pitches well, hit my spots and throw hard,” Solary said.
Added Ramsey: “She really utilized her drop ball and her off-speed stuff well. She also got some big strikeouts for us in clutch situations. That was part of the reason our errors didn’t hurt us much today.”
Solary also gave the Bears a huge boost at the plate as she went 3-for-3 with a single, two walks, a double and a monster solo home run that almost hit the scoreboard behind the center field fence in the second inning.
“I wasn’t trying to hit a home run there,” Solary said of her third homer of the season. “I just stayed back and wanted to drive a ball on that outside pitch. And it just flew.”
Added Ramsey: “I knew that was gone as soon as she hit it.”
An RBI triple by Aubrianna Powell, who was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored made it 10-3 after the top of the fourth. But Winnetonka was able to climb back in it thanks to some misplayed fly balls in the outfield by the Bears and some passed balls.
“I just felt confident at the plate from the very beginning of the game,” Powell said. “This has been the best offense that I’ve been a part of.”
The Griffins made it a game in the bottom of the fifth, with a three-run frame in which they narrowed the gap to 12-8.
The Bears tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the seventh when Gracie Ussery scored on a passed ball and Solary scored on Powell’s RBi ground out.
Today, Chrisman will take on its toughest challenge of the season when it faces a 22-6 Liberty team. And there’s one thing the Bears will obviously need to do to pull off an upset.
“We need to get it together on defense,” Powell said bluntly.