Roger Lower was all smiles following his Blue Springs High School softball team's crisp 3-0 victory over Suburban Big Six and crosstown rival Blue Springs South Thursday afternoon at Jim Coen Field.
“We had two scoring opportunities and took advantage of both of them, and Alexis threw a great game,” Lower said, referring to starting pitcher Alexis Reid, who outdueled the Jaguars' Erin Griesbauer.
“They had two runners on in the first and didn't score, and we came back and scored a big run in the bottom of the inning. Then, Mo (first baseman Morgan McMahan) gets a big two-out hit to drive in two runs in the sixth – we played the way I like to see my teams play.
“We addressed some issues yesterday (following a sloppy 9-2 victory over Park Hill South) and, by the way the girls played today, I could tell they were listening.”
Blue Springs improved to 18-1 overall and 6-0 in the conference, while the Jaguars fell to 13-9 and 5-4.
South's Julia Woelbel singled and Madi Giles doubled in the top of the first, but Reid settled down and retired the final South batter on a pop-up to end the threat.
“That was big for me personally, and the team, to keep them from scoring,” Reid, who allowed three hits and struck out nine, said of the top of the first inning. “Then, it was so big when we came back and scored a run in the bottom of the inning.”
Tylin Stephens led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Madison Sykes. Reid then singled, with Stephens stopping at third, and Darian Frost collected a clutch two-out RBI single that proved to be the game-winning run.
“I transferred from South when I was a freshman, so that was really big for me,” Frost said. “It's nice to be on the winning end of the big rivalry game.”
The score stood at 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning when Brittani Reid, Alexis’ younger sister, doubled and went to third on an error. Alexis walked and a courtesy runner stole second.
With two outs, McMahan stroked a two-run double to give the Wildcats a little breathing room.
“It was a big hit because you play with more confidence when it's 3-0 than when it's 1-0,” McMahan said. “We have so much confidence in Alexis and want to give her all the support we can.”
Those two added runs looked huge in the top of the seventh inning when South's Shannon Hughes singled and Reid hit a batter.
“I felt more confident pitching with the 3-0 lead that late in the game,” Reid explained. “And I knew the girls would play great defense for me.”
With two outs, South coach Kristi Williams tried to make something happen by giving the sign for a delayed steal.
“I saw (Hughes) get off the base and knew they were going for the delayed steal,” said Frost, the Wildcat catcher. “I threw the ball to Maddie and she did the rest.”
Sykes, the Blue Springs third baseman, made one throw, Hughes ran out of the baseline, and the game was over.
“A textbook rundown,” Lower said, smiling. “I couldn't have drawn it up any better. I'm really proud of the way the girls played today.”
So was Williams, despite the loss.
“That was a good game,” Williams said. “It was really close for five and a half innings, and it was still a close game when it was 3-0. The difference in the game was they got the big hits and we didn't.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC