Maddie Harris said it wasn’t a no-doubter when the ball left her bat.
It was the top of the seventh inning, and the only thing certain was that Lee’s Summit West and Lee’s Summit North were locked in an epic pitchers’ duel.
All Harris wanted to do as she led off the seventh for the Titans was make contact on a pitch from North’s Marisa Davis, who was matching West’s Jordan Weber strikeout for strikeout.
All Harris actually did was a launch a ball over the right-field fence for the only run during a 1-0 victory in Class 4 sectional softball action Oct. 11 at West.
Harris, the Titans catcher and No. 3 hitter, hit her team-leading seventh home run on a 2-2 fastball. She first took two swings at Davis’ riseball, a pitch that had confounded the Titans the whole game.
She knew she got a good swing on the solo blast, but, after that, it was all kind of hazy.
“My first two (swings) I was trying to hit the ball as hard as I could,” Harris said. “And then I was like, ‘OK, let’s try to get a hit now.’ I don’t really know what happened. I really didn’t know if it was gone.”
Harris’ hit was only the fourth Davis allowed as she struck out 16 Titans with no walks.
Weber, meanwhile, also struck out 16 in her fifth no-hitter of the season. She did give up three walks — all of them to Broncos cleanup hitter Olivia Krehbiel, and all of them more or less intentional.
“We had a plan to be very careful with Krehbiel,” West softball coach Eric Doane said. “She hit a bomb on us here and she’s a heck of a hitter. We end up walking her (three) times, which I’m OK with.”
Doane even had Weber walk Krehbiel in the bottom of the seventh — the Broncos won a coin flip to be the home team — with the heart of North’s order due up, even after the Titans failed to score an insurance run after MaKenzie McAtee followed Harris’ homer with a triple.
With Krhenbiel aboard, Weber got the next two batters to pop up, ending the game and securing her second no-no to go along with three perfect games.
“You see the stats, and we’ve handled the next hitters,” Doane said. “You’ve got to take your chances sometimes, you know, and it worked out.”
Doane also had a plan for dealing with Davis, but that one didn’t work so well. He wanted his hitters to lay off the riseball and try going opposite field on her.
“She’s a quality pitcher and you can’t discount what she’s done to us the last couple of games,” Doane said. “We just lost focus on what we were trying to do and trying to pull her.”
When the teams last met, Davis also fanned 16 in a 2-0 victory. The riseball proved too tempting and effective again in the rematch.
“We were trying not to swing at balls that started above our belt,” Harris said. “Her rise starts off pretty good. It doesn’t start high, but it goes pretty high, and I think we just got caught swinging at those.”
Weber’s riseball was working, too, and the Broncos wouldn’t get anyone else on base besides Krehbiel. That was about the only thing North couldn’t do as it closed the books on a 25-6 season that included its first district title since 2009 and tied a 20-year old school record for most wins.
“Defensively, we played excellent and Marisa threw good enough to win a ballgame,” North coach John Gage said. “But you have to score a run, and we didn’t get it done.”
West (28-4) moves on to play Staley (25-2) in a Class 4 quarterfinal Oct. 14 at Staley. A win over the Falcons, who beat West 2-1 in 10 innings last month, would give the Titans a second consecutive trip to the Class 4 state tournament.
“Our dream right now is to go on a three-game win streak,” Doane said. “We’ll see if we can get it done.”