• Jags make believers of themselves

  • Maddie Giles didn’t know what to think. She just wanted to smile.

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  • Maddie Giles didn’t know what to think. She just wanted to smile.
    She was starting to realize the magnitude of what she and her Blue Springs South softball teammates had just accomplished.
    “Oh my gosh, I think it’s hitting me now,” the junior catcher said.
    That’s right Jaguars, you are Class 4 District 14 champions after a thrilling 6-5 win over the rival Blue Springs Wildcats Friday at Legacy Park.
    “This is amazing, the best feeling in the world,” senior pitcher Michaela Tolliver said after the Jaguars (18-13) advanced to next Wednesday’s sectional against Raymore-Peculiar or Belton. “I told the girls put it all out there. Lay it all on the line. We lost three times to them this season, but we weren’t losing this one. This is a major win for us.”
    But the Wildcats didn’t make it easy. Winners of six of the last seven district titles, Blue Springs rallied from 4-0 and 5-2 deficits to tie it on Madison Hood’s RBI single and Brittani Reid’s clutch two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fifth.
    Blue Springs, which had scored two unearned runs in the fourth, carried that momentum into the sixth. The Wildcats loaded the bases with one out. Madison Sykes was pinch-running for Morgan McMahan, who sparked the rally with a leadoff double, and was just 60 feet from giving the Cats the lead.
    But a line drive by Hood was snagged by South first baseman Chelsey Tipton, who then doubled the runner off first. Threat over, season saved.
    “I was so relieved when I saw that,” said Tolliver. “I thought it might be a hit but I trust my defense. That’s got to be the biggest play of the season.”
    And one Jaguars coach Kristi Williams was happy to see.
    “We needed that. I had just said to Coach (Tracie Terry) that we needed a double play,” Williams said. “Then they hit it to Chelsey and she steps on the bag, and I said, ‘Oh, OK.’ It seemed like whenever we needed a big play, we made it.”
    Wildcats coach Roger Lower said it was indicative of the mistakes that cost his team throughout the game.
    “That was a terrible base running play. Jim (Brandner, first base coach) had just told her to make sure anything is through before you leave the bag with one out, and she gets doubled off,” Lower said after his team finished 22-9. “… We just made too many mistakes.”
    Giles and Mariah Bierman then provided the biggest plays. Giles, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, led off the seventh with her third double of the day. After a Bailey Autrey sacrifice, Bierman looped an RBI single into left field to score what proved to be the winning run and then soaked in the cheers of her teammates from the dugout.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I was just trying to do anything to get Maddie to score, just trying to do my job,” the sophomore third baseman said. “To see the reaction of my teammates’ faces from first base was priceless.”
    Kennedy Dujakovich led off the seventh with a hit and Kelseyt Brady reached on an error in the seventh, but Tolliver got a strikeout and a groundout to end it and set off a Jaguar celebration.
    “I don’t think words can describe it,” Giles said. “For once the softball gods were in our favor. They’re a great team, so I’m not really sure how we pulled it off. But we did.”
    Even if she couldn’t believe it.

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