Wilhelm helps Jaguars roll into district semifinals
Blue Springs South freshman Abbie Wilhelm began experiencing the pregame jitters early Tuesday morning.
She knew coach Kristi Williams was giving her the ball for the Jaguars’ Class 5 District 7 first-round game against Raytown at Blue Springs High School.
“There were some pregame nerves and butterflies, but I have so much confidence in my teammates I felt good about our chances of winning today,” said Wilhelm, who allowed just two hits and struck out nine Blue Jays in a 13-0, five-inning mercy rule victory.
The win places South in a 4 p.m. Wednesday matchup against Lee’s Summit, a 2-1 winner over Truman in another first-round contest.
“We had a great feeling with our freshman taking the mound today,” said leadoff hitter Elle Smith, who had three hits, scored three runs and drove in three runs in support of Wilhelm.
“We knew she was nervous in a big game like this, and we told her we had her back. She’s such a great player and teammate. Whether she’s playing middle infield or on the mound, she’s got the job done for us all season.”
Smith grinned, and paused for a few seconds, and added,” And what about that triple? She really hit that ball.”
Wilhelm helped her own cause with a fourth-inning triple and later scored on Ella Westhoff’s RBI single.
“Everyone hit today,” Wilhelm said. “Elle is such a great leadoff hitter. When she gets on, you know we’re going to score a run. And scoring three runs in the first inning really helped me relax.”
Smith led off the first inning with a single, took third on a passed ball and scored on McKenna Lester’s groundout. Tori Bradley then tripled and Bailey Brumley followed with an RBI single and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
“I love to give Abbie the ball because she has become an important part of our staff this year, even though she’s just a freshman,” said Jaguars coach Kristi Williams, whose 17-8 Jaguars are back-to-back state champions and have been to the final four in four straight years.
“With her throwing a complete game, that allows our other pitchers to get some rest because we’re going to need them the rest of the week.”
When asked about her team’s 12-hit, 13-run explosion, Williams said, “We came to play today. These girls always come to play.’
Lester scored two runs and added an RBI double; Bradley had a triple, double, two RBIs and two runs scored; Brumley had a single and double, scored a run added two RBIs; Brooklyn Clark scored two runs, had a single and two RBIs; and Ella Westhoff had two singles, scored twice and had an RBI.
“This is such a fun time of the season,” Smith said. “We’re used to having success in the postseason and this is a great start.”