How Blue Springs softball broke a nine-game losing streak to rival Blue Springs South
On an overcast and muggy Monday afternoon, a stoic young Blue Springs High School pitcher turned Blue Springs South's softball field into Peyton's Place.
Sophomore Peyton Jones barely cracked a smile, even after coaxing Abbie Wilhelm into a line drive to shortstop Kadence Shepherd, for the last out of her 5-0, two-hit gem.
"I'm pretty serious out there," said Jones, who helped the 12-6 Wildcats end a nine-game, five-year losing streak to the crosstown rival Jaguars. "I was happy, but I guess I don't show it on the mound."
That approach doesn't bother Blue Springs coach Anna Cole, who was part of so many great Wildcat teams when she played for Hall of Famer Roger Lower.
"That's just Peyton," Cole said after the Wildcats improved to 4-2 in the rugged Suburban Big Eight Conference. "She doesn't show a lot of emotion out there. She has been fantastic this season and she's only a sophomore, so she's just going to keep getting better and stronger."
Blue Springs South coach Kristi Williams pointed out the brilliant defense the Wildcats played behind Jones.
"We put the ball in play 19 times," Williams said after Jones held her team to just two hits. "And she still pitched a shutout. They made some great plays and we hit a lot of line drives right at someone."
One of the early defensive gems came in the bottom of the first inning when third baseman Brooklyn Saysoff made a charging defensive play to just get Elle Smith at first base after the South center fielder, who entered the game with a .541 batting average, bunted.
Following a hit by Blue Springs South’s Madison Hoffman and a hit batter, Wildcats center fielder Makenna DeLany made a long running catch and threw out Hoffman, who was trying to advance to third base, for an inning-ending double play.
"It could have been a different game, but who knows," Williams said after her team dropped to 17-4 and 4-2 after winning the Park Hill South Tournament title over the weekend. "They played well and their pitcher did a nice job today."
There were just two combined hits and no runs through the first three innings. That changed in the top of the fourth inning when the Wildcats collected four hits and scored four runs off Jaguars starter Bailey Brumley, who entered the game with a 6-0 record and 1.40 ERA.
Presley Ziegenbein opened with a walk and Shepherd and Saysoff singled to load the bases for catcher Ashton Arndt, who struck out on a Brumley changeup in the first inning.
Arndt got all of a Brumley fastball and lined it to a gap in right center field for a triple to score three runs. She then scored on Emma Bowen's RBI single.
"I was really happy when Ashton got that hit," Jones said. "It was easier to pitch with a lead."
Arndt, who sported an ear-to-ear smile, was quick to add, "That hit really got us going. And with the way Peyton was pitching, we felt like we had a great chance to win if we could score some runs."
The Wildcats added a solo run on a Cejai Holland single and a line drive by Shepherd that bounced over Smith's head in center field and rolled to the wall.
This is Jones’ first season as a full-time member of the varsity team.
"We used her a little in relief last season," Cole said, "and she has been cool, calm and collected this season. She may not smile when she pitches, but she sure makes the rest of us smile."
Holland and Shepherd each finished two hits for the Wildcats.
Mya Bristow had the second hit for Blue Springs South, a double in the fifth inning.