REEDS SPRING – The season has been a successful one so far for the Reeds Spring High School softball team.
The Lady Wolves won 12 of their first 15 games, tore off a 10-game winning streak and had some big individual performances.
All that went to another level on Thursday afternoon, in a home game against Sullivan.
Sullivan came in with a 12-2 record, a lofty state ranking and one of the most dominant pitchers in the state in Addison Purvis.
The Eagles left with a 12-3 record, following a 2-0 loss to Reeds Spring.
The effect of that victory is one that coach Scott Walker expects to last.
“It’s huge,” Walker said. “It’s a big win, one of the biggest ones we’ve had, because they are a great program and have been a great program for the 20-plus years I’ve been coaching.
“It gives us an enormous amount of confidence, and it helps in our district seeding next week.”
Purvis was as good as advertised, keeping Reeds Spring without a hit for the first 5 1/3 innings. Out of the 16 outs recorded to that point, 14 were by strikeout.
An unfortunate development forced her from the game in the sixth inning, leading to both of Reeds Spring’s runs.
Izzy Erickson collected Reeds Spring’s first hit – an opposite-field bloop single to right field.
On the first pitch to Ashley Nolan, Erickson stole second base and Purvis suffered a sprained ankle as she stepped off the mound to get out of the way of the throw to second base.
As Purvis was forced to the dugout with an ice pack on her ankle, Nolan worked a walk from the relief pitcher, and the runners moved up on a Brooke Davis groundout.
Maddie Cantrell came up next and delivered the biggest hit of the game, sending a shot to the gap in right-center field, bouncing off the fence on a fly and driving in two runs.
“When I went up to bat, I was just looking to get a base hit and was hoping not to pop out,” Cantrell said. “It went the way I wanted it to.
“I knew it was fair and wasn’t going to be caught. It was right in the gap.”
Reeds Spring threatened after Cantrell’s hit, with Tori Scobee reaching on an error and Lexi Essick drawing a walk to load the bases.
A strikeout left the bases loaded, but the Lady Wolves finished the game in the Sullivan seventh inning.
“We put the ball in play there at the end and started hitting her a little bit,” Walker said. “The third time through the lineup, I think our older kids were going to do something, and they did a good job. That’s a great team and a great program, and it’s why we scheduled them, to help get us ready.
“That is enormous. We play a lot of tough teams, but this was kind of a one-game deal. In one game, how are you going to react, how are you going to respond?”
Erickson nearly matched Purvis strikeout for strikeout, working around a fourth-inning error in the complete-game victory. She gave up two hits – none after the second inning – striking out seven and stranding three runners.
She was helped by Cantrell, who threw out a runner trying to steal second base with none out in the fourth, and several nice plays by the Reeds Spring defense.
Second baseman Alexis Baskins made a good play on a blooper down the right-field line in the sixth inning with the game still scoreless, and center fielder Ashley Nolan ran down a pair of well-hit fly balls in the seventh inning to help close the game out.
Reeds Spring has three road games left in the regular season, starting Tuesday at Seneca, before it hosts the Class 3 District 11 Tournament.
The seeding for the district tournament is set to be done this week. This victory figures to help, but there’s no quantifying how big it is for the team’s level of confidence.
“I think it’s very big for us,” Cantrell said. “It’s huge.
“There is going to some tough competition in districts and we need to be prepared for that. This will help a lot.”
Reeds Spring followed up the Sullivan game by splitting four games at the Springfield Invitational over the weekend – with losses of 8-3 to Joplin and 5-4 to Lee’s Summit North on Friday, then victories of 2-1 over (Wentzville) Liberty and 6-0 over Parkway Central on Saturday.
Erickson gave up one hit and struck out 21 against Parkway Central, and she added a triple as part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate. Nolan added three hits, with Davis, Maddie Cantrell and Mariah Cantrell finishing with two hits each.
Davis and Erickson teamed up for the pitching victory against Liberty, with Davis, Nolan and Baskins collecting two hits each.