Paige Butler’s stomach roiled with an unsettling feeling before Thursday’s non-conference softball game against Oak Park.
Something was off.
“She had been saying all game that her stomach was a little upset,” Truman coach Dan Harper said. “She kept saying, ‘I’ll be all right!”
Harper didn’t know what it was, but whatever might have been bothering her didn’t seem to have any effect at the end of the game.
With teammate Joni Oswald on third and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Butler did what any high school coach would want their player to do in that situation – she put the ball in play.
That’s all she had to do when she hit a low chopper to third and Oakies third baseman Grace Haskins misplayed the ball on a bounce, allowing the winning run to score in a 3-2 Truman victory at Adair Park.
“It was great. I made the error. My team picked me up and Kara pitched great out there,” Butler said.
She had just made a two-base error in the top half of the inning on a single to center field by Brittany Frazier, which allowed the potential go-ahead run to reach third with just one out. But freshman pitcher Kara Amos got a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.
Oak Park returned the favor when left fielder Olivia Griffin overran the ball on Oswald’s single to left, eventually setting up the game-winner on the two-base error.
“She was kind of like Forrest Gump,” Harper said. “Life is like a box of chocolates. You don’t know what you’re going to get. Because at any moment she can pull off a big play. She got redemption and won the game.”
All of that wouldn’t have happened without a clutch hit from Truman’s torrid hitting catcher Chloe Armstrong, who came into the game with a .667 average. Oswald broke a string of 15 straight batters retired by Oakies hurler Cailyn Deeney with two-out single in the bottom of the sixth. Two walks followed and Armstrong forged a 2-2 tie by drilling a two-run single up the middle.
“The stars just aligned at that point,” Harper said. “She came up with the bases loaded and teams usually pitch around her in those situations, but they had nowhere to put her.”
Amos earned the win, allowing two runs on eight hits and striking out 11.
“Her riseball and changeup were working really well today,” Armstrong said of the freshman, who is verbally committed to UMKC. “She is really dominant. And our defense did really well, so it was an all-around good game.”
The win was a signature one for Truman, which improved to 6-5 and is above .500 for the first time since 2013 after going just 6-22 last season.
“That’s character right there,” Harper said. “That doesn’t happen if they don’t have the confidence.”