The Blue Springs South softball team muscled up in district action Thursday afternoon at Legacy Park and is now a step closer to a district three-peat.
However, Suburban Big Six rival Lee’s Summit North stands in the way of that happening for coach Kristi Williams’ 17-6 Jaguars.
South’s Abby Sciara slammed two solo homers and Addie Lightner added a solo blast to lead the Jaguars to a 7-5 Class 4 District 13 semifinal victory over a gritty Lee’s Summit team that refused to give in, despite trailing 7-0 in the fourth inning.
The win sets up the third meeting this season between the Jaguars and the Broncos, who blanked Blue Springs 8-0 in Thursday’s other district semifinal game.
Game time is set for 4:30 p.m., today, weather permitting.
South was 0-2 in regular-season action against the Broncos.
“Today was the perfect example of why every batter, every run, everything you do is so important in a postseason game,” said Williams, who has led South to back-to-back state championship game appearances.
“We’re leading 7-0 and it’s looking good, and all of a sudden, we have one bad inning and Lee’s Summit is right back in the game. They’re a good team, and I told the girls this was wasn’t going to be over until we got that last out.”
Sciara gave South a 1-0 lead with her fourth home run of the season, a blast into the trees in deep left field.
“The ball must look a beach ball to Abby right now,” Williams said. “She homers her first two at bats and they intentionally walk her, her next two trips to the plate. She’s really in a groove.”
Sciara then made it 2-0 with her second homer of the game, a high, majestic drive that cleared the fence in right center field, in the third inning.
“I knew the first one was a homer when I hit it,” Sciara said, ‘but I was surprised by the second one. I just thought it was a pop fly to center, but it kept carrying and carrying and went out.”
When asked about her recent hot streak, the Jaguars shortstop said, “I’m in a zone. The ball does look really big up there, and I can’t wait for next at bat. And, if they walk me, at least I’m on base for someone else to drive me in.”
Lightner followed Sciara’s second homer with a home run, her second of the season.
“This was a such a big win for our team, and all any of us wanted to do was help us find a way to win,” Lightner said. “It was a lot of fun hitting that home run after Abby hit her second one.”
The Jaguars added four runs in the fourth, with Tori Bradley’s two-run single the big hit of the inning, to take a 7-0 lead.
But Lee’s Summit’s Brooke Day hit a grand slam in the top of the fifth and Abigail Joers added an RBI single to turn what appeared to be a rout, into a close game.
“It’s like Coach Williams said, all runs are big, and all the runs we scored were huge,” South starting pitcher Easton Seib said. “We have that 7-0 lead and I make one bad pitch to a very good hitter and suddenly it’s a 7-4 game. And then they score that fifth run and it’s like, ‘We have to get out of this inning.’ And we did.”
The Tigers’ Kailee Liles hit a ground ball back to Seib, who threw to first to end Lee’s Summit’s scoring threat.
Lee’s Summit’s Elizabeth Childs doubled in the top of the sixth, but Seib did not allow another run and retired the final four batters she faced, striking out two of them on called strikes.
“We got this win,” Seib said, “and now, we play Lee’s Summit North again. They are a very good team, and we’re going to have to learn from all our mistakes from the last two times we played them, and use that experience to try and find a way to win tomorrow.”
LEE'S SUMMIT NORTH 8, BLUE SPRINGS 0: The Broncos scored six runs in the second inning and never looked back in a Class 4 District 13 semifinal win over the Wildcats.
Bri Barchak was the losing pitcher for Blue Springs.
"This was a disappointing way to finish," said Blue Springs coach Jim Brandner, whose team ended its season at 15-15. "We worked hard and improved. I am really proud of the girls. Unfortunately, today’s loss did not show how far we have come. We have been doomed by the big inning all year. I had hoped we had overcome that. Not tonight. A six-run second inning was too big of hole. We struggled offensively. Only mustered one hit by Maddie Kielty."