Eagles provide support for stingy Huffman

By Bill Althaus

When BriLeigh Sims drove home two runs with a first-inning double, the Grain Valley third baseman knew in the back of her mind that a 2-0 lead just might be enough for the Eagles.

That’s because she knew the Eagles had Avery Huffman on the mound.

Huffman, though, followed with an RBI triple and Ella Clyman added an RBI double and the rout was on as the junior pitcher allowed just one hit, struck out 14 and led the Eagles to an 8-0 victory over Fort Osage Tuesday.

Grain Valley boosted its record to 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the Suburban Middle Six Conference while the Indians fell to 12-10 and 3-3.

“When Avery is on the mound, you know she’s going to keep the team you’re playing to a low score,” Sims said, “and there are sometimes you think that you can win with a 2-0 lead. But Fort Osage is a good hitting team and I’m glad we kept adding runs throughout the game.

“That took some of the pressure off Avery and gave us a lot of confidence. Although we have confidence whenever she, or any of our pitches, have the ball.”

After walking Kyra McIntosh to start the game, Huffman retired the next 15 batters. Kiley Mickey walked to lead off the top of the fifth inning and stop that streak. The lone Indian hit came in the top of the seventh when Alyssa Garlock hit a blooper to left field.

“I really don’t care how many strikeouts I get or how many hits I give up as long as we win,” said Huffman, the Eagles’ cleanup hitter. “If I can get a hit and help us score or pitch a complete game, I’m happy as long as we win.”

So is coach Garrett Ogle, whose Eagles are playing nearly flawless ball.

“We’re starting to see our conference opponents for the second time,” Ogle said, “and a win like this builds everyone’s confidence. It was a lot different the last time we played them.”

The first time the Indians and Eagles hooked up, Grain Valley pushed across seven runs in the top of the eighth inning to claim a 14-7 extra-inning win.

“I didn’t want today to go to extra innings,” Huffman said. “The girls did a great job supporting me at the plate and in the field. We really played a great game and this was a team win.”

Grain Valley collected seven hits – and six were for extra bases. Sims and Clyman doubled and Huffman tripled in the first, Cameryn Brown tripled in the second, McKenah Sears doubled in the fourth and Emma Jane Ogle doubled in the fifth.

Malia Gutierrez added an RBI single in the third inning for the Eagles.

“I thought Emma (James) adjusted pretty well on the mound after they scored those four runs in the first inning,” Fort Osage coach Kelly Sullivan said, “but that is a very good Grain Valley team. Huffman is one of the top pitchers in the area and she was really on her game today.

“And they can hit and play defense – and today that was a tough combination to beat.”