Three unearned runs and Cierra Harrison on the mound proved to be an unbeatable combination for coach John Gage’s Lee’s Summit North softball team.
The Broncos used that to edge Grain Valley 4-1 Thursday afternoon in Class 4 District 13 semifinal action at Blue Springs South High School.
“You feel good every time we give Cierra a lead,” said Gage, who will take his 19-8 team into today’s 4 p.m. championship game against host Blue Springs South, a 5-4 winner over Blue Springs in the second semifinal game. “We managed to get a couple of runs after Grain Valley made a mistake or two and we really played well. We got the big hits when we needed them and Cierra was Cierra – and that’s a good thing.”
The 21-10 Eagles scored in the top of the first as Mikayla Chiarez singled and scored on pitcher Avery Huffman’s double. But that was it for the Grain Valley offense as Harrison allowed just two runners to reach second base the remainder of the game.
“I don’t believe in showing any emotions when I’m pitching, because I think that can take away from my performance on the mound,” Harrison, a sophomore, said.
“We knew how good Grain Valley was, and how they can hit the ball. I wasn’t that concerned when they took the 1-0 lead in the first inning, but I felt a lot better after we scored in the bottom of the inning and then took the lead (in the bottom of the third).”
Kinsey Fiedler reached first in the bottom of the first on an error and scored on Maddie Barber’s RBI single.
The Broncos added two more unearned runs in the third on a Madison Sanders double, an infield throwing error and Barber sacrifice fly.
The lone earned run Huffman allowed came in the fourth on May McCay’s RBI double.
“I wish we would have won, especially for our seniors,” said Huffman, who struck out 11 and allowed just five hits. “We at least made it past the first district game this year, and hopefully we can win district next year.”
When asked about today’s opponent, Gage said – before knowing if he would play Blue Springs or Blue Springs South, two Suburban Big Six Conference opponents – “It’s like playing your sister. You know everything about them.
“Last year we beat Blue Springs South twice in the regular season and they beat us in district and went on to win state. We were 4-0 against them in conference, but that doesn’t mean a thing in the playoffs.”