Myel White is one of those softball players who can find a glimmer of hope, even when the clouds – like the ones hovering over Adair Park Wednesday afternoon – cast a wave of darkness.
The Truman pitcher allowed just one earned run against a Liberty team that was averaging double digits for the entire season, but saw a seventh-inning rally fall just short in a 3-2 Suburban Large Seven Conference loss to the Blue Jays.
“I got to come out and play,” White said after her 11-strikeout performance. “I got a double – and Lord knows I haven’t gotten a hit in who knows how long – and I know it sounds like a cliche, but I love this game and I am happy any time I get to play it.”
That was the theme Truman coach Dan Harper used when he chatted with his 11-19 and 5-4 team after the tough loss.
“I told the girls I want them to have fun,” Harper said. “I want them to have fun when they’re playing, I want them to have fun on the bench when they are cheering for their teammates. I want them to have fun at practice tomorrow.
“It’s a tough loss, but we did so many good things today, and I don’t want them to dwell on the negatives.”
Liberty (16-3, 10-1 Large Seven) scored two unearned runs in the top of the first when Amayiah Hall reached first on a fielder’s choice and Kelsee Mortimer singled.
With two outs, Marra Cramer hit a screamer to left field that slipped under the glove of CeCe Mora, as the two Blue Jays scored.
“She hit that ball so hard, I don’t think either runner would have scored if we could have come up with it in right,” Harper said. “But those things happen, and you just have to keep fighting.”
The score remained 2-0 until Liberty’s Sydnee Malott crushed a solo homer to right center field in the top of the fourth inning, setting the stage for a wild final frame.
Mora, Truman’s No. 6 hitter, led off with a walk against starter Lauren Slocum, who had allowed just three hits going into the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs, No. 9 hitter Hope Albert lined a sharp single to center, making it 3-1.
Leadoff hitter Kennedy Rucker then slapped the ball to third base and Raeli Howerton could not pick it up as Albert went to third.
Rucker then made a bold move at first.
“I wanted to draw a throw from their catcher and let CeCe score from third,” said Rucker, who took off for second before stopping midway between first and second, as Albert headed home. “I knew where I was, and thought I could get back to first before the throw.”
But the throw from catcher Olivia Branstetter just nipped Rucker as she slid headfirst into the bag. Albert scored before the final out, making it a 3-2 game.
“I thought I made it,” Rucker said. “I really did. We got the run home and I thought I could get back to the base, but …”
Harper praised Rucker’s hustle.
“She got a big hit and made it a 3-2 game, and who knows what happens if Kennedy gets back to first,” he said. “She was trying to make something happen and it didn’t quite work out. But that was a heck of a seventh inning against one of the best teams in the city.”