Lady Eagles go back to work
Coach: Unbalanced hitting a struggle in state title
The bar for Purdy softball has always been at a high level.
The Lady Eagles have a rabid fan base that will follow them anywhere and can turn any venue into a home field advantage.
On Sunday, the team reached its first spring softball state championship game and played for its first state title since Purdy was a fall sports team in 2003.
A 3-0 setback to Strafford in Sunday’s title game was not what the team had hoped for, but the group of players did accomplish the task of advancing the program’s standard.
“I’m proud of these girls,” said Lori Videmschek. “Our goal now is a Final Four berth every year. We hold our team to high expectations because we know what they are capable of.”
Videmschek felt the team did not play its best on Sunday, and they struggled with their approaches at the plate.
“We took a lot of unbalanced swings and popped the ball instead of driving the ball,” Videmschek said. “Hitting is 99 percent mental. That to me is the most frustrating thing about Sunday, knowing that we were capable of playing better than what we did.”
Purdy and Strafford split two prior meetings during the regular season, and a pitcher’s duel was broken in the fourth frame by Strafford’s Rilie Vote in the form of a solo home run.
After an out, the Lady Indians strung together three straight hits to add to their lead. Hayley Frank and Samantha Gott both singled before Alissa Collette delivered a two-run double into the gap in right-center for a three-run cushion.
“[Pitcher] Hallie [Henderson] was awesome in both games here in Springfield,” Videmschek said. “In the title game, she missed with two pitches and Strafford took advantage.”
The Lady Eagles threatened in the sixth with a McKenzie Renkoski bunt single to lead off the frame and Henderson drew a two-out walk. However, Rion Boyd was unable to square up the ball and popped out for the third out.
Henderson struck out 22 batters in the Final Four, including a state record 12 in the championship game.
Videmschek said the trio of seniors in Boyd, Devyn Callahan and Sami House will be missed next season.
“Those girls helped us win a tremendous amount of games and gave me everything they had,” Videmschek said. “We will miss them next season.”
The future remains bright for Purdy with a talented group of incoming freshmen joining a solid nucleus of returning starters.
“We are going to get some pitching depth next season,” Videmschek said. “I look for us to be in contention for a title as well.”
The Lady Eagles are taking one week off to recharge, then begin summer league play in Monett.