Blue Springs South softball ends tournament title game jinx after three tries
How’s this for irony?
The Blue Springs South softball team finally wins a tournament title after three tries this fall and they don’t get a trophy.
Well, for one, the winner of the Park Hill South Tournament gets a six-pound wrestling championship belt.
However, Park Hill South softball coach Jeff Walker had to tell South coach Kristi Williams it hadn’t arrived yet. So, the Jaguars had to take a championship photo holding the bracket of the 16-team tournament.
That was OK for many of the players due to the combination of a long day in the 90-degree heat and a homecoming dance only a few hours away.
“We wanted to win this, I told them we can’t go back and tell them we got second place again,” Williams said with a chuckle.
Earlier this season the Jaguars – ranked No. 2 in the Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association Class 5 rankings – reached the finals of the Rockwood Summit Tournament and the Columbia Battle Tournament but took second each time.
South went 4-0 in the tournament and finished after coming up short in the first two title games.
“The first two we couldn’t finish and we ended up second,” sophomore pitcher Maddy Duvall said. “It means a lot (to win). We focused a lot of our energy and it felt like we pushed through and ended with energy.”
Williams believed the Jaguars (17-3) ran out of gas in the season-opening tournament and a five-hour rain delay in the Battle Tournament made for a long night.
“Today was all about finishing, actually finishing like we know how to finish,” Williams said.
South got shutouts in both games on Saturday, beating Willard 10-0 in the semifinals and then blanking Class 5 No. 7-ranked Staley 4-0 in the finals.
In the championship game, senior Bailey Brumley hit a three-run home run in the first inning to set the tone. Then, Duvall went out and had another solid showing in the circle, striking out 11 and giving up two hits.
“That home run allowed Maddy to sit back and do her thing,” Williams said. “She was lights out all weekend.”
Pitching was a key for the Jaguars in the tournament, winning four games and giving up a combined six hits and one run.
“Our pitching is fantastic,” South junior shortstop Emily Berry said. “I love watching them play.”
In the semifinal wins, Madison Hoffman tossed a one-hitter and struck out 11.
Berry hit a home run, while Mya Bristow and Taylor Borovac each provided two RBIs.
Perhaps the biggest win came in the second game on Friday when Berry hit a two-run walk-off homer to beat No. 4-ranked Blue Springs 3-1.
That capped a rally that started in the seventh when Duvall hit a home run to tie the game.
Senior Elle Smith opened the bottom of the eighth on second base on the international tiebreaker and then Hoffman bunted her to third base. On the second pitch, Berry hit it over the fence in left field.
The Wildcats had an almost identical situation in the top of the seventh. Makenna DeLany started at second and moved to third on a ground ball. Duvall then got a strikeout and ground ball to end the threat.
Williams knew Berry or Brumley would deliver and noted that Berry had been fouling off pitches, was just a little off.
“I’m saying to myself ‘I can do this, I can do this,’” Berry said. “My teammate getting on base really helps and the energy they give me. With one out and runner at third, I was just thinking about a base hit and I saw the rise ball and I just got it. I was just focused on that pitch, not the outcome.”
Added Williams: “A home run is great. ... We were just looking to get her (Smith) home.”
Duvall struck out 11 – and a total of 22 in the tournament – and gave up three hits to the Wildcats, which finished fourth after a 9-8 loss to Liberty North.
The first game at the Tiffany Springs Sports Complex was a 14-0 no-hitter against Oak Park.
Sophomore Abigail Wilhelm struck out three in the three-inning game, aided by an 11-run first inning. Hoffman, Brumley, Bristow and Borovac all drove in two runs.
“It was a pretty good weekend for the three (pitchers),” Williams said. “We are pretty deep all around. It is a nice problem to have.”