After a three-game marathon, Blue Springs South head softball coach Kristi Williams posed for a picture with three of her players – Sydney Righi, Haley Woolf and Madison Crosslin.
One parent looked at Williams and joked: “Aren’t you tired of finishing in second place?”
“Yeah, we took second, but she’s No. 1 in my heart,” Williams responded as she hugged Crosslin.
The parent was referencing South’s runner-up finish in the Class 4 state tournament last fall. Williams was an assistant coach on Team Missouri for the Mo-Kan All-Star Softball Series Monday at the Shawnee Mission School District Softball Complex.
Even after winning the first game 4-3, Team Missouri lost the series. It dropped Game 2, 6-5; and Game 3, 8-0.
The third game only lasted two innings because of a city ordinance that required Field 1 to have the lights shut off by 10 p.m. Although Williams’ team finished second in this one, she relished a chance to coach her three all-stars one more time after an emotional playoff run last October.
“We talked about it before the game, we had one more game together, one more opportunity” Williams said. “We got to spend time together and do something fun.”
One play in particular, in Game 1, brought back memories for the Jaguar representatives. Missouri was ahead 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning when Kansas’ Emma Ryan smacked a single to left field. One runner crossed home and Abigail Allen was trying to score from second to tie the game.
Crosslin fielded the ball and fired a strike to home to Woolf, who applied the tag at home to preserve the one-run lead for Missouri and Righi, who came in relief.
“It helps that we have that connection,” Woolf said of Crosslin. “It definitely brought back memories.”
Added Crosslin: “It was good having Haley there again. She is a catcher you trust and she knows my arm. I have thrown with her the past few years, she knew what to expect.”
Two players from Suburban Big Seven rival teams ended up being big factors in the Game 1 win. Blue Springs’ Payton Minnis, who left early after Game 2 due to a shoulder injury, had an RBI infield single in the bottom of the third; and Lee’s Summit North’s Marissa Davis picked up the win as she tossed 5 ⅓ innings and allowed three runs on five hits and struck out six.
Williams said that she enjoyed being on the same team as the players she normally goes up against.
“We talked about it at practice. I said, ‘I am so excited. I get to play with her instead of against her!” Williams remembers when she thought of the opportunity to coach Minnis, Davis and others. “We were just like, ‘Hey! I am so glad she is on my team! Instead of beating me, she can play with me!’ You get to be with kids that you see them on the other side of the field all the time. Then you get to see why the other coach love them so much.”
In Game 2, Kansas won it on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan singled to right field. Woolf contributed with an RBI double in the first inning; Madison Crosslin singled, was hit by a pitch and scored on an RBI groundout by Righi, who also had a hit. Righi pitched 5 ⅓ innings and got the loss.
In Game 3, Kansas scored three runs in the first and five in the second, while Kansas pitcher Jordan Johnson held Missouri scoreless for two innings for the series win.
Although, Missouri didn’t come out with the win, Crosslin and Woolf said they both enjoyed getting a taste of what it will be like to play in college as every player involved were seniors and will play in college next year.
“It was awesome. It was definitely an honor to play with and against these amazing softball players,” Woolf said. “It was good to see all the great talent we have in Kansas City.”
Added Crosslin: “The turnout wasn’t what we wanted but it was good to have the opportunity to play with everyone one last time.”