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Examiner
  • Simbeck shuts down Nevada rally, lifts Eagles

  • A million thoughts were swirling through the mind of Grain Valley pitcher Brooklynne Simbeck as she stepped into the circle in the top of the seventh inning with the Eagles clinging to a 6-3 lead over Nevada Wednesday.

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  • A million thoughts were swirling through the mind of Grain Valley pitcher Brooklynne Simbeck as she stepped into the circle in the top of the seventh inning with the Eagles clinging to a 6-3 lead over Nevada Wednesday.
    The Eagles had already made history by becoming the first softball team in school history to win a district championship, and now, they were on the verge of another first – a Class 3 sectional win over the visiting Tigers Wednesday afternoon.
    When the first two Tigers reached on an error and a single, the Eagles ace knew she had to bear down to keep the tying run from getting on base.
    Simbeck struck out the next two batters – her 16th and 17th strikeouts of the game – and cleanup hitter Carsten Warner hit a mile-high pop up to shortstop Taylor Mays to end the threat and start a joyous celebration near the mound.
    The Eagles will play at Trenton, at a time to be determined, Saturday afternoon in state quarterfinal play.
    “I was so nervous in the seventh inning,” said Simbeck, who allowed no earned runs, “because this game was so important to everyone on our team.
    “When the first two girls got on base, I just started thinking about all the things that could happen – but (catcher) Syd (Fry) calmed me down, and when Taylor caught that last pop-up, it was just the most amazing feeling. We're doing things no other team in school history has done.
    “We’re making history ourselves, and it’s so much fun.”
    Simbeck struck out the first 10 Tiger batters and 12 over the first five innings.
    “Brooklynne pitched a great game,” Eagles coach Jim Oliver said after his team improved to 23-5. “We made three uncharacteristic errors – one led to their three runs and the third made it tough on Brooklynne in the seventh – but we kept our composure and she never allowed them to get back in the game.”
    Strikeout No. 15 left a runner stranded at third base in the Tigers' three-run sixth inning.
    “I was just kind of cruising along, and all of sudden they have the bases loaded in the sixth,” Simbeck said.
    Madeline Culbertson then hit a soft flair to right field that scored two runs. The third scored on a throwing error that put Culbertson on third base. That's when Simbeck dug down deep into her repertoire and struck out Ashley Shumaker to end the threat.
    The Eagles scored four runs in the third inning on six consecutive singles. With two outs, Monica Hudson and Mikayla Akers reached on bunt singles. Mays, Courtney Folk, Fry and Kelsi Hill followed with singles to give Simbeck some breathing room.
    “It felt so good to get the lead,” said Simbeck, who improved to 15-2.
    Page 2 of 2 - Fry and Hill added RBI hits in the fifth to make the score 6-0.
    “As it turned out, we needed those six runs because they had the tying run at the plate in the seventh,” Oliver said. “I'm just proud of all the girls. I think I was a lot more nervous than they were today. It's great to see them play this kind of ball at the most important part of the season.”
     
     
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