Addie Lightner, The Examiner’s 2019 Player of the Year, was thrilled to learn that she would have one more chance to play with senior teammate Regi Hecker in the annual Mo-Kan All-Star Softball Series.
But as soon as she learned she was selected to the Missouri squad, the multi-talented Blue Springs South graduate learned the best-of-three series was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It would have been so much fun to play one more game with Regi, and play with some of my summer teammates and some of the girls we played against the last four years," said Lightner, who has signed with Louisiana-Lafayette, a Sun Belt Conference Division I power that was ranked eighth in the nation when the spring college season was canceled.
"I’m just so thankful that our softball season was in the fall and it wasn’t canceled. I don’t know how it would have been if we hadn’t had the chance to defend our state title.
"I know a lot of girls who had their spring seasons canceled this year, and I feel so badly for them. This is something that is so new – and so devastating. I hope that we find a way to get back to normal sometime this summer."
While her Demarini Aces travel team has not played a game in Missouri, it has traveled to Oklahoma, which has reopened its fields.
"We’ve played in Oklahoma, which is open for play, and it’s great to be back out on the field," said Lightner, who was a standout pitcher for the Jaguars but is playing several infield positions for the Aces this summer. "I love to compete, and it’s just so much fun to compete. You forget how much you enjoy something until you can’t do it."
Lightner finished last season with the Jaguars with an 11-1 record, a 1.47 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 95.1 innings.
She also starred at the plate, where she hit .398 with a team-high four homers, 12 doubles and 31 RBIs. She also scored 19 runs while being named to the Missouri High School Fast Pitch Coaches Association all-state first team as an at-large player (utility). She finished her career at South with a .456 batting average.
Lightner made a name for herself by the way she responded to the moment, the big game, the spotlight.
In the 2019 Class 4 state semifinal game, Lightner was given a second chance and made the most of it.
She hit a foul pop in the sixth inning, seemingly missing an opportunity with the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position, with just one out.
Rock Bridge third baseman Chloe Simon dropped the foul pop fly and Lightner’s eyes lit up like silver dollars.
"They gave me a second chance and I wanted to make the most of it," Lightner said.
She slashed a double to center field to drive in Hecker and Emily Berry, giving Blue Springs South its first lead in that game.
"She just went back up there and did what needed to be done," Blue Springs South coach Kristi Williams said at the time.
Lightner retired the final 13 Bruin batters to lift the reigning state champions to a 3-2 victory.
In the title game, she pitched her fourth shutout of the season to claim a 10-0 mercy rule victory over Suburban Big Six opponent Raymore-Peculiar and complete a three-season stretch in which she was part of a second-place state team and two championships.
In 2018’s 2-0 state championship win over Troy Buchanan, Lightner hit a two-run homer to provide the winning margin for pitcher Easton Seib.
"Those are some great memories," Lightner said. "When we couldn’t play or really do anything, I thought a lot about the last two years. They were some of the best years of my life."