All season long the Blue Springs South softball team prided itself in having an offense able to produce runs almost whenever needed.
But when the Jaguars had to play catch-up against Troy Buchanan in the Missouri Class 4 state softball tournament championship game, they couldn’t put together that one opportunity they so desperately needed. And the chances faded away as Troy Buchanan pitcher Kiersten Nixon bore down in the late innings and helped seal Blue Springs South’s 4-3 loss on Saturday night at the Killian Sports Complex.
“I thought we did an awful good job with her,” Blue Springs South coach Kristi Williams said of Nixon, who no-hit Lee’s Summit West in Friday’s semifinals. “We got some good key hits, we put together some really good innings, we just couldn’t get one more.”
The Jaguars did get to Nixon — who finished 19-0, for 30-0 Troy Buchanan — enough to tag her for three runs and five hits over the first three innings. But it was Troy Buchanan that struck first for two runs in the top of the second inning, and the Jaguars never were able to take the lead.
Blue Springs South matched Troy Buchanan’s two runs with two in the bottom of the second inning. Mackenzie Warmund led off with a single down the third-base line and scored when Aubrie Munoz dropped a single into shallow left field. Madison Crosslin followed with another shallow single that brought home the tying run.
Troy Buchanan answered with a run on three hits in the third, and Blue Springs South tied it again in the bottom of the third on a towering leadoff home run by Bailey Fowler.
The Jaguars’ best chance to take the lead came when they loaded the bases in the fifth, but the Trojans snuffed out the threat when center fielder Haley Schmutz caught a fly ball and made a perfect throw home to nail Eden Tolliver and complete a double play.
Troy Buchanan put together three hits for another run in the fifth, and the Jaguars produced only one base runner the rest of the way.
Williams said she liked her team’s chances when Fowler, the Jaguars’ leader in home runs, and cleanup hitter Madison Hecker came up in the seventh inning. But Nixon retired both on called third strikes.
“I think we got a little tight there,” Williams said. “We just didn’t take advantage of all our opportunities early.”
And that ended Blue Springs South’s opportunity for the first state softball title in the school’s history. The Jaguars finished the season 27-5 and a little disappointed after coming so close to being state champions.
“It wasn’t how I wanted them to end their time with us,” Williams said. “But I couldn’t be any prouder.”