The Blue Springs South softball team’s bats were so hot, everyone at the Jaguars home field could feel the heat – especially the visiting Liberty Blue Jays.
In the Class 4 state quarterfinal matchup Saturday morning, the Jaguars collected four homers, 13 hits and 13 runs in a 13-6 rout of the 24-5 Blue Jays, who had won 11 games in a row.
The win puts the defending Class 4 state champions in the final four for the fourth straight year. The 18-6 Jaguars placed second in their first two trips to state before winning the state crown last year.
“This is huge, so huge,” said Addie Lightner, who allowed three earned runs and struck out five in going the distance for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars scored five runs in the first inning to take a quick 5-0 lead, as Lauren Rogers and Lauren Good hit back-to-back homers, but three second-inning errors helped the Blue Jays cut the deficit to 5-3.
South added a solo run in the bottom of the second and the Blue Jays tacked on two more runs to make it 6-5 going into the bottom of the third when the Jaguars exploded for seven hits, seven runs and homers by McKenna Lester and Bailey Brumley.
“When it was 6-5 I had confidence that we would come back and score some more runs,” Lightner added, “but I really didn’t expect seven in the (bottom of the) third inning.
“We just find a way to get it done in the postseason, beating Lee’s Summit North, Truman and Liberty for the second year in a row to go to state. Going to state! I just like how that sounds.”
So does coach Kristi Williams.
“After they got within 6-5 our girls really woke up and were locked in,” Williams said. “I think it was good for us after we got that 5-0 lead to be challenged and then responding as we head back to state.”
When asked about returning to state for the fourth year in a row, Williams’ smile said it all.
“It feels great,” she said, as her players put on “Four-Peat” shirts and posed for photos. “I’m so happy for our seniors and all the girls. Going once was great, but going four years in a row? That’s pretty amazing.”
Lester finished the game with three hits and three runs scored, leadoff hitter Regi Hecker had a hit and three runs scored and Brumley, Rogers, Tori Bradley and Emily Berry added two RBIs.
The Jaguars advance to Friday’s 10 a.m. state semifinal at the Killian Softball Complex in Springfield against Columbia Rock Bridge (26-6) or Francis Howell Central (21-8), which were scheduled to play Monday afternoon.