The Blue Springs South Jaguars threw around some softballs, then they went for some throwed rolls.
The guests prevailed in a visit to Ozark for the Class 4 softball playoff quarterfinals 5-1 on Saturday afternoon, and celebrated with a trip to Lambert’s Café, “home of throwed rolls.” Blue Springs South (26-4) became the first girls sports team from their high school to ever qualify for a final four.
For Ozark (25-7), the season was one of constant improvement that peaked in the playoffs. Coach Yancey Little was pleased with the way his players learned about truly being teammates as the fall progressed into October.
“If you came and watched us early in the year and watched us there late in the year, I think you saw probably two different ball clubs,” Little said. “There have been lots of teams that would have been happy to be here where we were.”
The Tigers tallied seven hits but managed just one run off of Blue Springs South pitcher Sydney Righi in the sixth inning of the seven-inning game. Center fielder Morgan Doyle scored from second base on an RBI single to right field by sophomore catcher Nya Morgan.
Righi is a fireballer who used a mixture of fastballs and screwballs to work seven innings for the win.
“We are really proud to represent the first girls sport at South to make it to the final four. I’m just really excited and happy,” Righi said.
Righi finished the game with two strikeouts, one hit batsman and one earned run.
“(Righi) worked in, she worked out, didn’t use her changeup a lot but when she did, it was pretty effective. I thought we hit some balls on the nose, they were able to make plays. We just didn’t have enough balls that fell in,” Little said.
Blue Springs South coach Kristi Williams was emotional after a postgame ice bucket sneak attack. The Jaguars will compete in the state semifinals at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield for the first time ever on Friday. The Jaguars predicted their coach’s postgame speech.
“I said, ‘Guys, I’m going to tell you what I tell you every day,’ they go, ‘We know, you love us.’ I go, ‘I love you and,’ and they go, ‘And you’re proud of us,’” Williams said. “’And I’m proud of you.’”
Ozark junior pitcher Brooke Pridgen held Blue Springs South scoreless through four innings before the Jaguars scored three runs in the fifth inning.
“That’s a great team, and we were just able to put a few hits together right when we needed them,” Williams said.
The scoring rally started with center fielder Madison Crosslin smacking an RBI double to center field. She went on to steal third base and score on a passed ball. Designated player Madi Hecker followed immediately with an RBI single that drove in Bailey Fowler.
Pridgen was the antithesis of Righi, relying on deceptive offspeed pitches to fool batters, and it worked through the first two passes through the Blue Springs South batting order.
“It was very frustrating, obviously, the first few innings,” Jaguars shortstop Makenzie Musgrove said. “(Pridgen’s) speed is different but so is her spin, so it was hard to get used to.”
Musgrove went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the seventh inning. Williams also acknowledged Pridgen’s crafty performance.
“(Pridgen) changes speed like you wouldn’t believe,” Williams said. “I don’t think you see two pitches the same. She’s good. She does a really good job.”
Musgrove was excited when the Blue Springs South coaches announced the surprise trip to Lambert’s, because to her, that means a chance to eat country fried steak. However, the trip to the final four on Oct. 21-22 is a dream come true.
“It’s amazing that we could make it this far into state because the four years I’ve been here, we’ve never made it out of districts, let alone the state final four,” Musgrove said. “I have looked at this as a dream for my whole high school career. I honestly never thought it would happen. I always thought we were good enough, but it’s very surreal that it’s actually happening.”