The Southwest Lady Trojans may be 5-9, but they are one dangerous softball team.
After graduating All-State catcher Kirstie Ickes, Tony Eagleberger was pretty much resigned to a rebuilding year. But his young players have improved at warp speed, and even the dour Eagleberger pours on the compliments when talking about his team.
"We still make some bonehead plays," he says, "but we also make some outstanding ones, and our hitting is way ahead of schedule."
Southwest turned some heads when they played Cassville to a virtual dead heat at the Crowder Tournament, a game the Lady Wildcats finally won, 3-2.
Then in the Lamar Tournament, the Southwest girls showed their mettle. Trailing 5-4 to the host Lady Tigers in the bottom of the sixth inning, Sarah Conley doubled home the tying run. Then freshman Nicole Ickes cracked a double for the walkoff game winner.
"Great win," said Eagleberger. "That's probably the best win we've had since I've been at Southwest."
A Sept. 6 home game against College Heights showed just how far the Lady Trojans have developed defensively.
Trailing 9-6 in the top of the seventh, the Lady Cougars put runners on first and second with no outs. Left fielder Hailey Riesenmy stepped to the plate.
"I'm already thinking ahead to our turn at bat because I expected College Heights to tie it up or take the lead," said Eagleberger.
Conley got ahead in the count, 0-1, and then Riesenmy hit a line shot to the hole on the left side of the infield. Ickes laid out to snatch the line drive, wheeled and threw a bullet to second base for the double play. Cady Swindle never hesitated, pegging the ball to Zia Roller at first base to complete the triple play. Ballgame.
"I was stunned," said Eagleberger. "We should have been ahead 9-3 in that game, but we committed five errors to let them get back in it. We don't do anything easy around here."
Southwest will host the East Newton Lady Patriots on Thursday afternoon at the school sports complex in Washburn.