Truman softball coach Dan Harper paid Kara Amos the ultimate compliment Monday afternoon after his Patriots dropped back-to-back heartbreakers in the Greater Kansas City Softball Invitational.
Amos had three doubles, reached base four times, scored three times and drove home a run in a 9-8 loss to Pleasant Hill in the first game, then allowed just two earned runs, hit a two-run homer and struck out 10 Broncos in a 6-2 loss to Lee’s Summit North in Game 2.
“Kara was a one-man wrecking ball today,” Harper said after the Patriots fell to 2-2. “She did everything she could to help us win both games, and we weren’t able to get a win in either game.
“I haven’t been around a lot of elite players, and I came to Truman a long time after (three-time Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year and four-time Oklahoma All-American and two-time World Series champion) Paige Parker graduated.
“But I can say that in all the schools I’ve been with, and the girls I’ve worked with, she’s the best. She is a great player, a great teammate and a great Truman High School student.”
Not a bad summation of the junior standout, especially coming from a coach who had just lost his first two games of the season.
Myel White started the Gold Bracket opener for the Patriots and Averee Brattin’s leadoff homer set the plate for the Chicks, who scored four runs on six hits in the first inning.
Pleasant Hill added solo runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings and two runs in the fifth with all runs scoring off the Truman starter.
But the never-say die Patriots, led by Amos’ hot bat, scored two in the third, one in sixth and used a big throwing error to add five in the bottom of the sixth inning, to make it a one-run game.
But to keep on the tourney schedule, there was no seventh inning because the time limit had expired.
“I wish we would have had one more inning the way we were getting after it late in the game,” Harper said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our girls to keep chipping away and making what looked like a lopsided game so close.”
Truman then took a 2-0 lead in the consolation semifinal against North on a two-run homer by Amos, but the Broncos tied it up in the fourth inning with two unearned runs.
North then took a 4-2 lead on a monster home run over the center field fence by Broncos catcher Sydnee Ross in the top of the fifth inning.
“She struck me out on two changeups on my first two at-bats,” Ross said of Amos, “so I was glad I was finally able to see a fastball. At least, I think it was a fastball – I just know it wasn’t a changeup.”
John Gage praised his 3-1 team as they came back and found a way to beat Amos and the Patriots after a tough 3-1 loss to crosstown rival Lee’s Summit West in their bracket play opener.
“It says a lot about our girls to win this game after a really tough loss to a big rival,” Gage said. “Sydnee really got a hold of that homer and they made a few mistakes and we were able to capitalize on them.
“This is a big win, because Amos is one of the best pitchers in the area.”
Despite allowing four unearned runs, Amos walked off the field praising her teammates.
“Everyone makes mistakes, including me,” she said, managing a smile despite the two losses. “Coach was talking about playing this tournament to work on some things, and we played two very good teams and came close to getting two wins.
“We all hope if we play them again, we will find a way to win.”
While he was pleased with his team’s resolve, the errors chafed the veteran coach.
“Errors have been our M.O. the past few years,” Harper said. “We made 94 two years ago and 50-some last year. We have to cut down on them. And we will.”
The Patriots advanced to the championship bracket by winning their pool with a pair of wins Saturday. Truman downed Belton 11-3 and blanked Lee’s Summit 9-0.
White earned the win against Belton with a complete game, while Amos pitched a complete game shutout against the Tigers.
Harper said sophomore leadoff hitter Kennedy Rucker provided a spark on Saturday,
“She has really come out of her shell and takes command at the plate and on the bases,” Harper said. “Her talent was always there, but on Saturday, her confidence and performance at the plate and on the bases was on full display.”