Grain Valley softball nearly perfect in rout of Fort Osage

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

Coach Garrett Ogle's Grain Valley softball team came about as close to perfection as any team could experience Thursday. 

The Eagles used a stellar pitching performance by Avery Huffman and strong hitting to claim a 10-0 Suburban Middle Six Conference mercy rule victory over visiting Fort Osage Thursday afternoon. 

"It's a great way to start the conference season," Ogle said after a brief and congratulatory postgame session with his team. "Offense, defense, great pitching – that's the way you win games. And those were all things the girls accomplished today to beat a very good Fort Osage team." 

Huffman allowed just one hit in the five-inning shutout, while collecting three hits and four RBIs to lead the way at the plate. Leadoff hitter Lauren Parker added three singles, three runs scored and an RBI, designated player Mackenzie Keller cracked a two-run triple and table setters Mikayla Chairez and BriLeigh Sims each scored two runs. 

Huffman's first single scored Parker, following her leadoff single in the bottom of the first. 

The Eagles then scored four runs in the bottom of the second. Cameryn Bown led off with a double, Parker and Huffman drove home a run each and Sims added a two-run double. 

A five-run fourth inning led to the mercy rule victory as Huffman and Keller had two RBIs each and Emma Jane Ogle added an RBI groundout. 

"I felt really focused out there today, pitching and hitting," Huffman said. "And our team really played well offensively and defensively. Getting the early runs helped my confidence and it was a great way to start conference." 

Parker said the Eagles (14-3, 1-0 Middle Six) fed off Huffman's performance on the mound and the offensive explosion at the plate. 

"With Avery or Hailey (Hemme) pitching, we have a lot of confidence, and you could tell early in the game that Avery was really on," Parker said. "So, when I led off the game with the hit and then scored on Avery's hit, I just felt like it was a going to be a good day for our team. 

"And it was. We were hitting the ball so well; we couldn't wait to get up to bat." 

Huffman and Keller's two-run hits in the fifth inning blew the game wide open. 

"You want to start strong in conference and we did that," Keller said. "We're heading in the right direction. We were focused and locked in – in all parts of our game – and it showed today." 

Across the softball complex, Fort Osage coach Kelly Sullivan was just wrapping up a heart-to-heart conversation with her team. 

"We knew Grain Valley would be a strong opening (conference) opponent, but we didn't expect the game to turn out like this," said Sullivan, whose team entered with a 7-1 record overall. "We gave up those early runs, and you could see their confidence build as the game went on. 

"We did some things well today; we just have to do a lot more things well the next time we play them and throughout the rest of our season." 

Bailee Rinacke collected the lone hit off Huffman, a fourth-inning single.