Brooklyn Saysoff's clutch hit lifts Blue Springs softball to walk-off win over Grain Valley

Michael Smith
Special to The Examiner
Blue Springs' Brooklyn Saysoff, third from left, is mobbed by teammates after hitting a walk-off RBI single in the seventh inning to lift the Wildcats to an 8-7 home win over Grain Valley Thursday.

Blue Springs softball coach Anna Cole was concerned when Grain Valley brought in all-state pitcher Hailey Hemme in relief of Avery Huffman in the fourth inning. 

She’s a pitcher who gave the Wildcats fits last season. 

“When they brought Hemme in, she beat us twice last year,” Cole said. “I was like, ‘Oh man. I hope that doesn’t get into our heads with that information.’” 

It didn’t. 

With Izzy Milligan at second base with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Brooklyn Saysoff got the biggest hit of her career, she said. She flicked a single to short left field and Milligan was able to beat Cameryn Bown’s throw home to cap a thrilling 8-7 Blue Springs win Thursday at Jim Coen Field.  

“She’s a clutch hitter,” Cole said of Saysoff. “When she steps in the box, I have all the confidence in the world. She came up to me and said, ‘OK. What are you looking for?’ I just said, ‘Use your eyes. You got great eyes. See contact and only swing at strikes.’ And she did.” 

Blue Springs' Izzy Milligan (5) gestures toward her teammates at home plate as she gets a pat on the back from coach Anna Cole while rounding third base after hitting a three-run home run in the fourth inning of Thursday's game against Grain Valley at Blue Springs. Milligan later scored the winning run as the Wildcats edged the Eagles 8-7.

Milligan admitted she took a gamble when she rounded third and headed home. She was able to make it to home plate before the throw despite it being a short distance to throw for Bown. 

“I was so nervous because I thought that was such a short hit that I wasn’t going to get in,” Milligan said. “I knew I could get (to third base) but getting home was iffy.” 

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Saysoff capped a strong offensive performance from Blue Springs while facing two of the area’s best pitchers in Hemme (all-state last season) and Huffman (all-region). The Wildcats hit three home runs and drew 11 walks. 

“It was just about getting simple base hits,” Saysoff said. “Keeping your teammates up when something bad happens and definitely defense. We have an amazing defense and we have amazing hitters.” 

It was a rare off night for both Hemme and Huffman, who normally dominate in the circle. Huffman, who pitched a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts against Oak Grove earlier in the week, was the starting pitcher and surrendered six runs on six hits, walked seven and struck out six in 3 ⅓ innings. 

“Whatever it was, they were off tonight,” Ogle said of Huffman and Hemme. “Some days, you don’t have your A game. Today, neither had their A game today. We gave up free bases which led to free runs.” 

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Grain Valley got off to a good start in the top of the first inning, though. Huffman had an RBI single and Ella Clyman followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. 

Blue Springs countered with Emma Bowen’s RBI single in the second and Kadence Shepherd’s sharp line drive to center field for an RBI double in the third to tie it 2-2. 

In the top of the fourth, Grain Valley had Mackenzie Keller at first base with two outs when McKenah Sears blooped a single to right. Keller attempted to score on the hit but was thrown out at home to keep it deadlocked.

Blue Springs' Ashton Arndt is greeted by teammates at home plate after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of Thursday's game against Grain Valley. The host Wildcats went on to claim an 8-7 win.

The Wildcats exploded for four runs in the fourth to chase Huffman. Ashton Arndt hit a solo home run that snuck over the left field fence to lead off the inning. Three batters later, Milligan blasted a three-run home run that cleared the center field fence and the small concrete wall a few feet behind it to balloon the advantage to 6-2. 

“I thought (Lauren Parker) was going to catch it at first,” Milligan said. “I played with Avery my whole life. It felt good to get a hit off of her for once. I have always had struggles against her.” 

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Just when it seemed like the Wildcats had all the momentum, Grain Valley put up five runs in the top of the fifth. Lauren Parker slapped an RBI single down the left field line. BriLeigh Sims came up just a few feet short of a home run as she hit a two-run triple off the left field fence. Clyman dumped an RBI single to right, and Sears’ RBI groundout put the Eagles ahead 7-6.

Blue Springs' Cejai Holland does the spoon-it-in eating celebration after slugging a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning in Thursday's game against Grain Valley. Holland's blast over the center field fence tied it 7-7 and the Wildcats won 8-7 on Brooklyn Saysoff's walk-off RBI single in the seventh.

Blue Springs responded in the bottom of the frame with Cejai Holland's solo blast to center field to tie it at 7. Both teams went scoreless in the sixth and seventh before Saysoff’s heroics unfolded. 

“They brought it and wanted it more,” Ogle said. 

The Wildcats may not have been able to get the win without relief pitcher Rian Moore. She got the win, allowing just one run on three hits over four innings. 

“From coming from not playing varsity to just now starting varsity, she is doing amazing,” Milligan said of Moore.