Three Kansas City-area high schools participated in the Missouri state softball playoffs at Killian Sports Complex on Friday. Two collected third-place trophies and one still has a chance to take home a championship on Saturday.
In the Class 4 semifinals, pitching, solid fielding and timely hitting propelled Blue Springs South to a 5-3 victory over Staley.
Blue Springs South started slow, falling behind 2-0 in the first inning after walking two batters, hitting one and committing an error. The Jaguars looked overmatched by Staley junior pitcher Alana Vawter, who has committed to play at Texas.
Senior catcher Haley Woolf changed that with her solo home run to center in the second inning.
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“That pitcher is amazing. I mean she is going to Texas, so I was just trying to get a base hit and help my team out,” Woolf said.
The momentum stayed with Blue Springs South.
“Haley came through when we needed a lift, when we weren’t playing our best,” Jaguars coach Kristina Williams said. “We needed somebody to make us think we could still do this, and she did that.”
Woolf struck out in the bottom of the third, which appeared to end the inning and leave the bases loaded. But the Staley catcher dropped the third strike and Woolf ran to first. All of the Jaguars advanced, a run scored and sophomore Addalyn Lightner stepped into the box.
“We all just see the ball pop out of the catcher’s glove,” Williams said. “She picked it up and threw it towards the pitching staff, so we were yelling at Haley and next thing I knew, everybody was where they were supposed to be.”
Lightner launched a bases-clearing triple off the left center-field wall, giving Blue Springs a 5-3 lead.
“I played with her (Vawter) basically my whole life, and I knew we were down,” Lightner said. “So I just sat on a changeup because we needed to get runs across somehow.”
Given the lead, senior starting pitcher Sydney Righi handled the rest.
Blue Springs South plays in its second consecutive state championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Marquette.
“We are definitely looking for a different result than last year, and we are going to try our best to make that happen,” Righi said.
The day ended on a happy note for Staley ... with a third-place trophy, thanks to a 12-1 win over Francis Howell in five innings.
The Falcons scored 11 in the first inning, sending 15 batters to the plate and recording six hits.
“After the semifinal loss, we were really upset,” Vawter said. “We knew we didn’t want to go down that way.
“We decided we were going to come back out one last time altogether and see what we could do.”
Eleven runs was more than enough for Vawter, who allowed only one run against the Vikings after giving up five in the semis. She allowed three hits and struck out seven.
Senior shortstop Lauren Lauvetz went 3-4 with three singles and two runs in her last game for Staley, 27-3.
“They’re fighters,” Staley coach Kasey Martin said of her team. “It feels better coming out with a third-place finish … only four teams make it this far. It’s just nice to be here.”
Smithville takes third in Class 3
The Smithville Warriors picked up the lone run in a pitcher’s duel against Incarnate Word Academy, winning the Class 3 third-place game 1-0.
Smithville junior Karington Kadel pitched a complete game in a 2-0 semifinal loss to Monett and followed with a gem against the Red Knights.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go the whole game after pitching the first one, so I’m happy,” Kadel said.
She threw seven scoreless innings while striking out four.
“Karington has such great command and she can put the ball where she wants it,” Warriors coach Steve Tingler said. “She just battles out there.”
Senior right fielder Malea Langhus got two hits — both on infield singles — including the all-important single in the bottom of the sixth.
Langhus stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch with no outs and scored on senior Kathryn Bean sacrifice fly to center.
“I knew we would get one, and it was better late than never,” Kadel said.
Kadel allowed two runners to reach in the top of the seventh, but she escaped the jam.
“We just had to get it done to end the season on a win,” Tingler said. “It’s very positive to end the season with a win, and you could see their reaction at the end was as if they had won state.”
In the semifinal loss, Kadel made quick work of Monett in the early innings. She retired the first six batters and threw just four pitches in the second inning. But Monett junior Camryn Wolf doubled leading off the third and, with the Smithville infield in, scored on a seeing-eye single through the left side. Monett added another run in the inning when the Warriors misjudged a fly ball in the outfield.
The Warriors mounted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh when sophomore pinch hitter Annie Postlewait doubled. Back-to-back infield singles loaded the bases with just one out. Senior second baseman Kathryn Bean, a left-handed hitter, sent the first pitch up the third-base line but Monett turned a game-ending 5-2-3 double play.