It’s a mantra that begins with Kristi Williams and filters down throughout the lineup of her Blue Springs South High School softball team: One pitch at a time, one play at a time, one game at a time and one day at a time.
That philosophy has helped the 17-6 Jaguars advance to Saturday’s Class 4 state quarterfinal game against Liberty.
The time has yet to be determined, but the site will be Blue Springs South High School, where Addie Lightner and the Jaguars blanked Truman 6-0 Wednesday afternoon in a Class 4 sectional playoff on a windy day that provided more than its share of thrills.
Lightner did it all for the Jaguars, the Class 4 defending state champions who have reached the final four the last three years, pitching a four-hit shutout and collecting four hits, including her fourth home run, which penetrated a 20 mph wind and just found its way over the left-field fence.
“I’ve been asked if I’m in a zone in the postseason,” said Lightner, who has been on the mound in each of the Jaguars’ postseason wins this year, “and it’s not like I’m in a zone, it’s just that we’re playing so well as a team.
“This postseason means so much to the seniors on this team – me, Regi (Hecker), Sophie (Lopez) and Lauren (Rogers) – and it means a lot to the underclassmen, too.
“I remember last year when Abby (Sciarra) and Easton (Sieb) were seniors, and we knew how much it all meant to them. And it means that much to all the seniors this year, too. And we’re out there winning as a team. Maybe the entire team is in a zone.”
Yet, when asked if there was a key to the postseason success, the senior standout had a ready answer.
“We take it one pitch at a time,” she said. “We take it one play at a time, one game at a time, we never look too far ahead. We have to stay in the moment and make sure we take care of business because at this time of year, if you lose, you go home, and none of us want to go home.”
Truman senior Kara Amos, who was 7-0 with a 0.54 ERA entering the game, was roughed up for five runs on 10 hits through four-plus innings, including a two-run first inning in which Hecker led off with a triple.
She scored on a ball McKenna Lester hit off the glove of a Truman infielder. Lester then scored on Tori Bradley’s sacrifice fly to center.
“We wanted to get something going early,” said Hecker, who had a triple, double and single along with a run and an RBI. “We knew if we gave Addie an early lead, we’d be tough to beat. We scored those runs in the first inning and just kept scoring more runs.
“But we never thought ahead to the next inning, our next at bat or anything. We took it all one play at a time.”
Hecker’s RBI double gave South a 3-0 lead in the second and Bailey Brumley hit a triple and scored on Rogers’ RBI single in the third to make it 4-0.
Lightner’s solo homer made it 5-0 in the fifth and she was the last batter Amos faced. South scored its final run off Myel White, on Lightner’s RBI single in the sixth.
“It’s a grind, but the girls just keep getting the job done,” South coach Kristi Williams said. “They’re focused and they play like they’ve been here before, which they have.
“But like the girls have told you, our philosophy is take it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time, and so far, it’s been working for us.”
Following a long, tear-filled postgame meeting with his 18-12 Patriots, Truman coach Dan Harper praised both teams.
“That’s a great Blue Springs South team – great players and great coaches – and we wish them luck the rest of the way,” Harper said. “I’m so proud of our girls and what we’ve accomplished this season.
“We made it this far this year, maybe we can make it a little farther next year.”