Regi Hecker’s fingerprints could be found all over Blue Springs South’s 5-4 white-knuckle Class 4 District 13 semifinal win over crosstown rival Blue Springs Thursday afternoon.
The win sets up a rematch of last year’s district title game as the Jaguars will play host to Lee’s Summit North, a 4-1 winner over Grain Valley in the other semifinal game at Blue Springs South High School.
The Jaguars center fielder threw out the potential tying run in the top of the fourth inning with a perfect throw to catcher Tori Bradley, who made a sweeping tag on Cejai Holland as the Jaguars catcher blocked the plate with her left leg.
“Tori made a great tag,” Hecker said. “I work on plays like that all the time – throwing the ball to home from the outfield. I guess all that work paid off tonight.’
Hecker then hit a one-out triple in the bottom of the sixth inning and scored a gutsy game-winning run on a ground ball to Wildcats first baseman Brooklyn Saysoff.
“I went the minute Mckenna (Lester) hit the ball,” Hecker said. “I thought I could beat the throw and I was able to do it – thank goodness!”
Hecker used her speed and cunning to beat the perfect throw home by Saysoff.
“Regi was Regi on that play,” said South head coach Kristi Williams, the third base coach. “Before I could say ‘Go!’ she was off at the crack of the bat and scored the game-winning run.
“And she throws out their girl at the plate on a great play. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think she had much of a chance of throwing out the runner. But she caught the ball and made a strong throw and Tori did a great job blocking the plate.”
For the second year in a row, the 16-6 Jaguars will play their longtime conference rival for the district title.
“It’s like deja vu all over again,” joked South pitcher Addie Lightner, who allowed seven hits and four earned runs in picking up the win. “They beat us twice in conference last year and we beat them in the championship game.
“This year, they beat us twice in conference and we’re hoping we can get another district win against them tomorrow.”
It was a heartbreaking loss for coach Jim Brander’s 17-10 Wildcats as they made a costly error that led to two unearned runs in the third inning.
“Hat’s off to Kristi and her team, they came up with the big hits and the big defensive plays when they needed them,” Brandner said. “I am so proud of our girls.
“We managed to tie it (4-4) on Cejai’s two-run double in the sixth. And for a minute, it looked like we were going to have a 6-4 lead in the seventh on a ball Bella (Andrews) hit, but it was just foul.
“Bella and Savannah Maynard have been with us the past four years. They are great players and even greater kids, and it is going to be so tough to tell them goodbye and think of next season without them.”
Andrews, who had seven RBIs in an early season 9-7 loss to the Jaguars, hit the ball over the fence in the sixth inning but it curved foul. She then lined out to keep it tied. She finished with two doubles and an RBI in her final game as a Wildcat. Maynard had a single and double in her final high school game.