Successful debut: Wildcats roll in Cole's first game as coach
Sophomore pitcher Saysoff allows just two hits in season-opening victory over Staley
Their uniforms were drenched and the swirling, brooding clouds created a dark and ominous scene at Jim Coen Field Monday.
But Blue Springs High School softball coach Anna Cole and her victorious Wildcats were all sunshine and rainbows following an impressive 9-3 victory in which they downed visiting Staley and Mother Nature.
With a determined sophomore on the mound in Brooklyn Saysoff, the Wildcats overcame several downpours, a slick turf and opening-game jitters to reward Cole with her first victory as the varsity head coach. She has been an assistant the past three seasons.
“This is so great, even better than I imagined with all the things we had to overcome with the weather,” Cole said by phone, as pandemic rules prohibited on-field conversations. “I’m so proud of our girls. Brooklyn got off to a little bit of a rough start because she told me she couldn’t get a grip on the softball in that first inning. But after that, she was great.”
Saysoff walked the first two Falcons she faced and they scored on a Hailey Herman double. After that, Saysoff allowed just one more hit the rest of the way. It came in the seventh inning when Paige Phillips tripled and scored on Shea Martin’s sacrifice fly.
“I just couldn't get a good grip on the ball that first inning, and it was a little bit slick on the turf,” Saysoff said by phone, “but with my great teammates behind me, I knew they would catch anything that was hit to them – and they did
“It was just great to win for Coach Cole. This is a victory we all can share, because everyone on the team played a role in the game. We were all so excited and so pumped up for our first game and for Coach Cole’s first game.
“And the weather made it crazy, but we never let the weather bother us. And we never made any excuses because of the weather – it was just one of those games you’ll never forget.”
After the Falcons took a 2-0 lead in the top of the rain-soaked first inning, the Wildcats roared back to score seven runs.
“That was huge for everyone,” Cole said. “It was cool. After that first half inning, all the girls came back to the dugout and they were all excited and ready to hit. And boy, did they hit.”
Like Saysoff, Herman, the Falcons’ starter, had trouble gripping the ball and walked three Wildcats. Blue Springs also came up with three hits in the inning with Abby Kinzler’s two-run double the big blow.
“When Abby got that hit I was so excited,” Saysoff said. “The girls took care of me at the plate and in the field, and that’s what makes this team so special.”
Freshman left fielder Matti Peters made two running catches in left field and Kinzler snagged a laser beam at first that appeared to be heading to the right field corner in the top of the seventh.
“All the girls were great, but those plays Matti and Abby made were amazing – and Matti is just a freshman so she made a great start and Abby is a senior leader on the team,” Saysoff added.
One of the most talked about plays came in the third inning when Lexie Spichal walked, stole second, and scored on an errant throw.
“That was exciting for all of us, especially Lexie,” Cole said. “When they threw the ball away, I sent her home knowing it would be difficult to make a good throw with a wet softball.”