All season long, Truman’s softball team has been fueled by raw emotion. For the most part, that’s a good thing. But sometimes that can make the going a little tougher.
On Thursday night, it was both a help and a hindrance.
A shaky and frustrating first inning put Truman down a run early against St. Teresa’s Academy in the Class 4 District 14 final at Adair Park. But with emphatic back-to-back home runs from catcher Chloe Armstrong and pitcher Myel White in the fifth inning, the Patriots wiped out those early frustrations and claimed a 6-3 victory and their first district championship in four years.
“That’s just the way we play,” Truman coach Dan Harper said. “It’s all about the emotion. As much as you curse it when things go bad and you think things are breaking down, that emotion gets them right back in it.”
Armstrong, a senior, readily admits to wearing her emotions on her sleeve when she’s on the field, and she didn’t hide her displeasure when she barely missed a tag at the plate that led to St. Teresa’s first run in the first inning. That just made the ball she crushed over the left field fence leading off the fifth inning for a 2-1 lead all the more sweet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever ran around the bases so fast – I was just so happy to get back to my team,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t think it was going to go out for a little bit.”
After Armstrong’s blast gave Truman its first lead of the game, White followed with a moon shot of her own. That was the only time St. Teresa’s (8-8) let her swing the bat. The Stars intentionally walked her three other times.
That compounded the early frustrations for White, who was pitching for the first time in over a week due to inflammation in her shoulder. White had 14 strikeouts and three walks, but she also gave up eight hits and recorded only one three-up, three-down inning.
White’s first pitch of the game went way outside, and her second pitch was lashed for a triple by St. Teresa’s outfielder Natalie Telep. White walked the next batter, and one out later, the Stars’ Isabella DeZeeuw lofted a shallow fly ball to right fielder Tayler Hastings.
Hastings made a perfect throw to Armstrong, but Telep just eluded her tag, much to Armstrong’s obvious shock and surprise.
“My emotions got the best of me, but I had to snap right back into the game,” Armstrong said. “It was really hard for me because I wanted this so bad.”
Armstrong said White didn’t need any calming down after the rocky first. St. Teresa’s had base runners in the second and third, but she struck out the side both innings and fanned the Stars in order in the fourth. Telep touched her for a two-run double during a rocky seventh, but she had a 6-1 lead to work with by then.
“That’s what she does,” Harper said. “She has high strikeouts and if people get on base, she can usually get herself out of a jam.”
Truman got its first in the fourth when Michaela Arnzen rolled a ball past St. Teresa’s right fielder for a triple and scored on Hastings’ single up the middle. The Patriots (16-12) added three runs on three hits and an error in the sixth.
That was more than enough to secure Truman’s first district championship since 2013, the last of four straight the Patriots won with legendary pitcher Paige Parker. The Patriots await the winner of today’s District 13 final between Lee’s Summit North and Blue Springs South in a sectional game next week.
But first, Armstrong and the rest of the Patriots were ready for a heartfelt celebration.
“I’ve been looking forward to this since my freshman year,” Armstrong said. “I’ve been wanting this so long and I’m a little emotional right now.”