Madison Hunsaker wasn’t overpowering Monday night, but she didn’t need to be.
And she didn’t want to be.
Hunsaker was selected to start the opening game of the MO-KAN Softball Series, and the Belton standout showed why she was part of Missouri’s all-star team. While she didn’t mow down the Kansas all-stars, she was still good enough to be named Missouri’s Most Valuable player after beating Kansas 4-1 at the Shawnee Mission School District Softball Complex.
When Missouri walked off with a 4-3 victory in the second game, the Show-Me State clinched the best of three series for the third straight year.
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Hunsaker did her part in the opener by holding Kansas to six hits and no walks with four strikeouts. The left-hander was more efficient than dominant, and she said that was by design.
“That’s how I like to pitch,” said Hunsaker, who will play for Missouri State next year. “I like to use my defense more than striking girls out. I figured I had some of the best girls in the city behind me so I might as well use them.”
That defense helped Hunsaker face the minimum nine batters over the first three innings despite giving up three hits. It also erased base runners in the fourth and fifth innings.
Kansas didn’t get on the board until Cat Lane of St. Thomas Aquinas led off the sixth inning with an infield single and Halle England of Olathe Northwest singled her home.
Missouri already had a 2-0 lead by then, and Raymore-Peculiar standout Callie Martin figured in both runs. Martin drove home Hunsaker with a single in the second inning and scored on an error in the fourth, one of seven miscues committed by the Kansas stars.
Missouri added two more runs on two hits in the seventh, the first a double to the gap by Daphne Plummer of Lee’s Summit West.
“We played a pretty clean game and unfortunately they didn’t,” Hunsaker said. “We kind of overpowered them on that side of the field.”
Martin, who will play softball for Missouri, also scored a run in the second game. She drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first and Destiny Ojigoh of Liberty North followed with a two-run homer to center field.
Ojigoh’s blast came after Kansas scored three runs in the top of the first. Ojigoh scored the tying run in the fifth when was hit by a pitch and driven home by Tori Farr of Platte County.
Plummer stroked a one-out single to left field in the seventh to set up Missouri’s game-winner. She advanced to second on a groundout, and Farr’s seeing-eye single rolled out just far enough to let Plummer beat the throw home.
“I was a little scared because I couldn’t see behind me,” said Plummer, who will be a teammate of Hunsaker’s at Missouri State. “I didn’t know how far the ball had went, but I saw that my coach was sending me so I was just going to hustle as hard as I could.”
Plummer’s run not only gave Missouri another victory in the series, it also gave it a 9-8 lead all-time in the event. The victorious squad also included Emily Clark and Cierra McGee from Lee’s Summit North.
“We didn’t know coming in the series was tied,” Hunsaker said. “We wanted to put Missouri on top.”