Strength up the middle usually means a team will be successful.

Strength up the middle usually means a team will be successful.

If that’s the case, this could be a memorable season for the Blue Springs South softball team.

Shortstop Kaitlin Schaberg was 3-for-4, with three runs scored and two RBIs, second baseman Kelsey Dean was 4-for-4 with a double, three singles and two RBIs, catcher Madison Giles added three hits, three RBIs and a run and pitcher Megan Schwindler threw a four-hitter and added a single and scored to pave the way Tuesday afternoon for a season-opening 14-4 mercy-rule win over Fort Osage in the Greater Kansas City Suburban Invitational at Adair Park.

“I couldn’t be more excited about our team,” said Schaberg, whose lone out in the game came on a sizzler that Fort Osage shortstop Makaila Kruse was able to snag in the second inning.

“My out was probably the hardest hit I had today. But that’s the way it goes. The important thing is that we won and we played well. This is an outstanding way to start the season.”

Coach Vickie Brummel agreed.

“I couldn’t be happier with the girls,” Brummel said. “We had timely hitting, great pitching and played good defense. Fort Osage is a very good team, and this was just a nice way to start things off.”

Brummel was happy after the second game, too, when her Jaguars routed Oak Grove 10-0.

While Brummel was thrilled with both of her team’s victories, Fort Osage coach Kelly Sullivan was having a heart-to-heart talk with the Indians as their five errors led to seven unearned runs in the loss to South.

“And that’s just from the physical errors,” said Sullivan, whose team fell 10-0 to Oak Grove in the second game. “We made so many mental errors, and as the team’s coach, I’m going to take responsibility for that. We threw to the wrong bases, we overthrew our cutoff men – it’s over with, it’s out of our system and we need to go on from here.”

For a brief moment, it appeared this might be a memorable start for the Indians as third baseman Kenzi Mickey slugged a monster home run to give Fort Osage a short-lived 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning (please see related story).

But South stormed back to knot the score at 2-all in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single by Dean.

“You always feel that oomph when you score the first runs in a game,” said Dean, who also starred in the field as she used every inch of her 5-foot-3 frame to jump and grab what looked like an extra-base hit off the bat of Brittany Weir in the top of the third inning.

“I think (first baseman) Michaela Tolliver came over and picked me up and threw me up in the air so I could make that catch. I just timed it right and was able to catch it. Not bad for 5-3, huh?”

The Jaguars took a 3-2 lead they never relinquished into the bottom of the second when Tolliver doubled and scored on Giles’ RBI single.

Lauren Chirnside and Dean singled to start South’s third inning, and the Fort Osage defense fell apart. Three errors later, the score was 6-2.

Schaberg singled and scored on another Fort Osage error in the fourth to make it 7-2, and the Indians came back to cut the deficit to 7-4 on Katy Divers’ two-run double in the top of the fifth.

“Our kids never gave up,” Sullivan said. “We just didn’t play very well. It’s early, we learned a lot today and we’ll play better.”

Chirnside’s two-run double was the big blow in a three-run fifth inning and the Jags earned the 10-run mercy rule by scoring four in the bottom of the sixth. Giles stroked a two-run single to end the game.

“I think we’re going to be a very good offensive team this year,” said Schwindler, who will be part of the Jaguars’  1-2 pitching combo, along with Tolliver.

“I really like sharing the pitching with Michaela. “I like to work low and she likes to work high (to the batters), so we really complement each other.”

Brummel said she is fortunate to have two such outstanding pitchers.

“The girls like it, their parents like it and we are very fortunate to have two pitchers who could easily be the No. 1 pitcher on another team’s staff.”

BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH 10, OAK GROVE 0: Tolliver followed with a five-inning one-hitter and Brooke Parker singled twice and tripled with two RBIs and two runs scored as the Jaguars topped Oak Grove.

Lauren Chirnside singled and tripled with one RBI and Schaberg doubled with one RBI as the Jaguars collected 12 hits.

“Michaela pitched very efficiently, and we had good defense behind her,” Brummel said. “Eight different players scored. It was a great team effort. Maddie Giles did a great job behind the plate in both games.”

OAK GROVE 10, FORT OSAGE 0: The Indians followed with another loss to the Panthers.

Mercedes Marriott singled and doubled for the Indians.

Oak Grove turned the game into a rout with a seven-run fifth inning.

“We’re trying to stay positive and grow from here,” Sullivan said.