Blair Clark says she and her Lee’s Summit North softball teammates take their hitting seriously. They put on a serious display of that hitting Wednesday.
North cranked out 20 hits over just five innings for a 19-2 victory over Grain Valley in the championship Gold Bracket semifinals of the Greater Kansas City Invitational at Adair Park in Independence. The win set up a meeting with Lee’s Summit West in a final that was played Thursday night in the rain-delayed tournament.
In its four games leading up to that final, North outscored its opponents 44-4, so the outburst against Grain Valley was nothing out of the ordinary. With eight returning starters from a 20-8 team that hit the ball well last year, Broncos coach John Gage knew this team would swing the bats, too.
“When we hit the ball, we’re pretty good,” Gage said. “We’ve got power all over the lineup. We had it last year, too, but we may have more this year. And we’ve got some speed too along with that power.”
That power and speed were all on display against Grain Valley. Every Bronco but one who got in the game got at least one hit, even the four who came in off the bench after the game got out of hand. Clark, a senior third baseman, led the barrage with a four-for-five, four-RBI night.
“I was just focused on moving the runners, getting on base,” Clark said. “If you get on base you’re going to help your team anyway. That’s what I was trying to do.”
Clark scored the first two runs of North’s five-run first inning with a bases-loaded single. Londin Fiorella followed her with an RBI-single and Mariah Hanner had a two-run shot as the Broncos brought 10 batters to the plate. All of those hits came with two out.
“The turning point was the three two-out hits in the first inning,” Gage said. “After that we relaxed a little bit and then everybody started swinging it.”
Clark flared another two-RBI single in North’s seven-run second inning, which include a two-run hit from Izzie Medrano and two Grain Valley errors. The Broncos scored two more runs in the second and tacked on another seven in the fifth, two of them on a towering home run from Hannah Moser that bounced off the flag pole in dead center field.
Grain Valley could never get its bats going against North pitcher Olivia Krehbiel, who held the Eagles hitless until giving up two runs on two hits in the fourth inning. Krehbiel, an all-state first team selection last season, will back up returning starter Marissa Davis in the circle.
Davis just became eligible Wednesday after completing enough practices, and she picked up her first win in a 3-2 victory over Oak Grove that was nothing like the Broncos’ second game of the night. McKenzie Jones hit two RBI-doubles, both of which scored Sydney Ross, and the Broncos had to hang on after Oak Grove homered in the sixth and cut the lead to one.
“It took us a little longer to get started on hitting, but we came out and we stuck with it,” Clark said.
Lee’s Summit West advanced to the final Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over Raymore-Peculiar in the quarterfinals and an 8-7 walk-off win over Lee’s Summit in the semifinals. An error on a line drive by Carson Staponski scored the winning run for the Titans, who led 6-1 after the first inning. Maddie Harris drove in three runs for West, while Brielle Beavers had four RBIs and Eli Childs homered and drove in three runs for the Tigers.
Lee’s Summit reached the semifinals with an 11-1 win over Blue Springs South in the quarterfinals. Childs drove in four runs for the Tigers, and starting pitcher Hayley Curley held Blue Springs South, last year Class 4 state tournament runner-up, to three hits over six innings.