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Examiner
  • Jags rally for wild district win over North

  • This wasn't the way Michaela Tolliver envisioned her stellar Blue Springs South softball career coming to an end.

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  • This wasn't the way Michaela Tolliver envisioned her stellar Blue Springs South softball career coming to an end.
    The senior pitcher allowed four unearned runs to Lee's Summit North in the first inning of Wednesday’s opening game of the Class 4 District 14 tournament at Legacy Park in Lee's Summit.
    If body language could be used as an indication to the outcome of the game, Tolliver and her Jaguar teammates were toast.
    Wrong!
    The Jaguars rallied for an improbable 8-6 victory and now play No. 1 seed Lee's Summit at 4:30 this afternoon on Field No. 5.
    South scored a run in the bottom of the second inning. The Jags tied the game at 6-all in the bottom of the fifth and assistant coach Amanda Durnal pulled a rabbit out of her rules book and sparked No. 4-seeded South in the top of the sixth by wiping a Bronco runner off first base.
    Then, junior catcher Maddie Giles drilled a triple to deep right field – a laser shot that would have been out at South – to drive in Hannah Tolliver with the go-ahead run. Bailey Autrey followed with an RBI single and South pulled what appeared to be a tough-luck loss into a morale-boosting victory.
    “Our girls just wouldn't give up,” first-year South coach Kristi Williams said after her team improved to 16-13. “When we scored the first run, you could just tell that was the spark the girls needed. And you knew that Michaela was going to get stronger as the game went along.
    “This was a doozie of a win.”
    Tolliver retired the first two batters in the first inning before a walk, an infield error and four consecutive Bronco hits gave No. 5-seed North a 4-0 lead.
    “I was pretty mad in the first inning,” Tolliver said. “But I knew the girls wouldn't let me down. When we scored in the second, I thought we'd come back.”
    Sammi Backhus' RBI single made it a 4-1 game. Soon it was 4-2 as senior Cheyenne Watkins doubled and scored on a Bronco throwing error.
    The Broncos padded their lead to 6-2 in the top of the fourth on Logan Tottle's two-run single, but South made it a 6-5 game in the bottom of the inning on Hannah Tolliver's RBI single and Giles' two-run base hit.
    The score was knotted at 6-all in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back doubles by South's Mariah Bierman and Morgan Greenwood.
    “That's when I knew we were going to win,” said Tolliver, who allowed eight hits and three earned runs. “Then I go out and walk the first batter in the top of the sixth."
    Page 2 of 2 - But the wily Durnal pointed out to Williams that North had used an illegal courtesy runner. After a 25-minute debate, the umpires agreed and she was taken off the base paths. Tolliver struck out just her second Bronco to end the inning and set the stage for a dramatic finish.
    Hannah Tolliver singled and Giles followed with the biggest hit of the season.
    “I'm a junior and I get to come back next season, but Michaela, Cheyenne and Morgan don't,” she said. “So all the underclassmen are playing for them. I wanted to get that hit so badly, and I did.”
    The hit triggered an emotional celebration in the Jaguar dugout.
    “Everyone in this dugout contributed to this win – including Amanda (Durnal),” Williams said, smiling from ear to ear. “I don't know why, but I just knew we were going to win this game. I'm really proud of everyone.”
     

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