Overwhelmed by the prospect of mastering two positions on the softball field, Truman senior Tishina Bradley turned her attention to just one.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
With the go-ahead from coach Amy Temples, Bradley gave up catching and chose instead to focus all of her efforts on becoming a better hitter.
Not a bad plan.
Bradley bombed a three-run home run and drove in four runs as part of Truman’s 8-1 rout of Eureka in the Class 4 semifinals on Friday afternoon at Killian Sports Complex in Springfield. Truman will face Ozark, a team it has already defeated twice this season, for the state title at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“After I became the designated (hitter), I was able to relax and put all of my attention on hitting,” Bradley said. “I feel like I’ve become a way better hitter since then.”
Bradley’s blast — which landed only about a foot past the centerfield fence — highlighted Truman’s five-run fifth inning. It was the first home run of Bradley’s high school career, even if it took her awhile to realize it.
“I didn’t even know it was (gone) until I was almost to home plate,” she said.
Bradley did only half of the damage Friday afternoon. Victoria Zorich took care of the rest.
Zorich laced a two-run single in the first inning and added two more RBIs in the fifth. She finished two for three.
Paige Parker was once again dominate on the mound for the Patriots, who picked up their 30th win of the season against only three losses. Parker gave up one run in the seventh inning. She struck out 14.
Parker is 22-3 on the season, with two of the victories coming against Saturday’s opponent, Ozark. Truman defeated Ozark 4-2 and 2-0 in the two previous matchups.
Grain Valley advances in Class 3
As Grain Valley celebrated it first trip to the Class 3 state tournament in school history, coach Jim Oliver reminded his team it had two victories left to claim.
Only one remains now.
Grain Valley took out Festus, 4-0, in the semifinals Friday and will play Centralia for the state championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Brooklynne Simbeck relied heavily on an effective riseball and silenced a Festus offense that was hitting .354 on the season. Simbeck pitched a complete game. She struck out 11 and allowed only four hits.
“It was crazy,” Simbeck said of her first state-tournament experience. “It was awesome, though. We’ve never gone this far. It was amazing to see how it brings everyone together.”
Grain Valley, 25-5, jumped on Festus, 25-3, early with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the first. Monica Hudson and Mikayla Childs-Akers — the Eagles’ first two batters of the game — both scored.
Taylor Mays, Courtney Folk and Kelsi Hill produced run-scoring singles in the game.
Grain Valley has yet to face Centralia this season.
“This grope of girls is going to have a good day,” Oliver said. “They’re going to have fun. If nothing else, they’re going to have fun.”