Staley pitcher Alana Vawter expected a tight duel when she faced Jordan Weber and Lee’s Summit West on Oct. 14 during a Class 4 state softball quarterfinal.
Instead, she got to enjoy an almost relaxing game.
Before she even stepped into the pitcher’s circle, Vawter had a two-run lead to work with thanks to a Titans error.
After the Falcons added a two-run single in the third, she had all the cushion she needed during a 5-3 victory on a rainy afternoon at Staley in Kansas City, Mo.
“It was definitely like a breath of relief when we scored those first two runs in the first inning,” said Vawter, a junior right-hander who has committed to Texas. “Then, I can go out there and pitch with a lead. It makes it a more fun game for me.”
Staley (26-2), which was the visiting team after LS West (28-5) won a coin flip to be the home team, opened the game with a bunt single by Lindsey Gilbert and a one-out walk by Lauren Lauvetz. When Gilbert broke for third on a steal attempt, Titans catcher Maddie Harris’ throw sailed into left field.
Gilbert and Lauvetz both scored, Staley a quick 2-0 lead.
LS West would commit two more errors, but none as damaging.
“We played our worst game on defense,” Titans coach Eric Doane said. “We were ready to play, but we tried to make plays and we didn’t make them. They took advantage of every mistake we made.”
LS West got one run back on an RBI-double by Harris in the bottom of the first, but Staley struck for two more in the third.
Gilbert singled and Lauvetz doubled, setting the table for Vawter, who launched a ball that got past LS West’s right fielder at the fence for a two-run single and a 4-1 lead.
“I had seen so many pitches in my first at-bat I was ready to be aggressive in my second,” Vawter said. “When I saw that pitch, I just went for it.”
The Titans scratched out two runs in the bottom of the third on an error and a RBI single by Makenzie McAtee, but Vawter — with the help of Staley’s defense — kept LS West in check the rest of the way. She retired 12 of the last 13 batters she faced as a light drizzle turned into off-and-on heavy showers.
Vawter only struck out three — and none past the third inning — but she didn’t need many strikeouts thanks to the Falcons’ airtight defense, which got to almost every ball the Titans hit.
“She’s just a tough girl,” Staley coach Kasey Martin said. “She’s a tough girl and a great leader for this team. She’s just a gamer.”
Weber, a junior and a Missouri commit, had an unusually difficult day for LS West.
After tossing a 16-strikeout no-hitter against Lee’s Summit North during Wednesday’s sectional, Weber gave up six hits, hit three batters, and walked another.
When she faced Staley last month, Weber fanned 17 during a 2-1 10-inning loss.
“The stage is not too big for her; she’s been here before,” Doane said. “She was just a little off today. I can’t explain it, really. She never got into a zone, and she struggled.”
The loss denied LS West a return trip to the Class 4 state tournament, where the Titans placed third last season.
Staley, the Class 4 state champion during its last appearance in 2015, will face Blue Springs South in the semifinals Oct. 20 at the Killian Sports Complex in Springfield.
Blue Springs South defeated Webb City 5-3 in 17 innings Saturday.
Vawter is ready to go back.
“It’s just straight excitement,” she said. “We’re so excited to be back and we just can’t wait for what’s going to come.”