Purdy vies for Final Four spot
Lady Eagles' season living up to coach's expectations
The softball expectations in Purdy were set high from the start of the Lori Videmschek era a year ago.
From the very first time she met her squad, Videmschek told the girls the goal was a district championship.
On Monday, the Lady Eagles exceeded her expectations with a 5-4 win over Marionville in the Class 1 Sectionals
"These are just a great group of kids," Videmschek said. "That's really all I can say. They worked hard from day one. Expectations were set high, I told them that from the beginning.
"They bought into the system and gave me everything they had. We have proof in the hardware of their great effort."
Purdy dropped three fly balls in the first inning and fell behind the Lady Comets 3-0, but they responded to adversity quickly with a run in the second and three more in the third.
"We had talked about not letting the district win be our high points [of the season]." Videmschek said. "They've given me everything they had in last week and we are still playing."
For Jayse Henderson, Purdy's lone
senior, the district win was a long time in the making. Henderson finished the game one-for-three at the plate and scored two runs.
"I knew that we could win the district this year as long as we played together as a team," she said. "It means absolutely everything to just go and get this [win]. It's just unreal and a great feeling."
Until Thursday, the current Purdy players had only known heartbreak in softball district title games.
Three out of the last four years, the Lady Eagles advanced to the district tournament championship, only to be turned aside by Pierce City.
Aware of recent history, Videmschek employed a distraction tactic by declaring this year's squad was going hunting for the title.
The players, students and fans wore camouflage and hunter's orange to work, school and in the stands.
Purdy opened the tournament with a 7-0 win over Wheaton on Tuesday. Pierce City was then upset by Sarcoxie, 5-4.
Henderson said she was not nervous at all for the title game.
"I was pretty relaxed because I knew that if we played to our ability we would win," Henderson said. "Not just me, but we all bought into the 'hunting for a title,' wore our camo to school and even had fun at the pep rally with it."
Purdy jumped on Sarcoxie early, scoring three times in the bottom of the first.
"I knew we were going to be nervous coming in, and I think those three early runs really settled us down," Videmschek said. "I told the girls we have got to put the peddle down in the first inning, and then I told them that we needed to score three runs."
Sophomore Rion Boyd had a monster game for the black and gold. She went three-for-four at the plate with two triples, a double and two RBI.
"I saw the ball well today," Boyd said. "It looked like it was a big old beach ball coming in. I came into the game and set my mind to helping the team and told myself that no matter what, I was going to hit the ball hard today."
Purdy scored three times in the first, three more times in the fourth and plated single tallies in the second and sixth frames.
Sarcoxie plated an unearned run in the second and one more in the fifth.
The Lady Bears threatened in the sixth inning and loaded the bases with one out.
Purdy pitcher Breanna Keeler fell behind the next hitter 3-1, but battled back to earn a strikeout. She got the last hitter to pop out to first base and end the threat.
"I was so proud of the way Breanna dug down to get those outs," Videmschek said. "I had made my mind up that if she had walked the first hitter, I was going to change pitchers. But, she found a way."
Keeler scattered six hits over seven innings and allowed just one earned run. She struck out four and walked two.
Purdy hosts Stockton in the quarterfinal round on Thursday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.