Target acquired

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Purdy’s Jessi Hoppes slides to safety on second base during the Lady Eagles’ win over Mt. Vernon on April 8. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Lady Eagles ranked No. 1 in Class 1

Coaches in any sport will say there’s no better way to get a target on your back than by being considered the best, and if that is the case, no bigger target can be painted on the back of the Purdy softball team.

The Lady Eagles (17-1) last week were named the No. 1-ranked team in Class 1, and there are any number of scores and stats over 18 games that give credence to the claim.

Purdy’s Kinsley Mattingly barehands a ball sent to left field during the Lady Eagles’ 10-1 win over Mt. Vernon on April 8. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

For starters, Purdy has outscored its opponents 155-28, and half of those points against came in the Lady Eagles’ one loss on the season, a 14-2 decision to East Newton.

Most of the Class 1 Top 10 are well outside Purdy’s play area, but the Lady Eagles will face No. 3 Lincoln on Saturday. Purdy has played a number of Class 2 teams ranked in the Top 10, splitting games with No. 5 East Newton, winning 2-1 and losing 14-2; beating No. 6 Mt. Vernon at home on April 8, 10-1; and topping No. 9 Sparta twice in back-to-back meetings on March 27 in the SWCL Tournament, 2-0 and March 29 at home, 1-0.

Purdy has also shut out 9 of its 18 opponents, including a 4-game stretch of goose eggs from opponents from March 27-30.

While the season has been impressive, Head Coach Lori Videmschek said the ranking does one major thing — paints a target on the Lady Eagles.

“It’s a honor to be ranked No. 1, and we’ve seen these top five play in the last few years, and they are all good teams,” she said. “It shows what the kids have been doing and how much they’ve worked to get better, but there’s always a target on our backs in Purdy, and that No. 1 makes it pretty big. We have to just continue doing what we’ve been doing and get ready or our next game.”

Videmschek said pitching and hitting has been the key to success this season.

“Lauren Schallert and Hadley Hughes have done a great job for us on the mound, and as a team, we have 14 home runs this year so far,” Videmschek said. “We are also putting the ball in play and moving runners in our situational hitting.”

Defense has also been stout, with the Lady Eagles fielding at a whopping 94.7 percent with only 20 errors on the year.

“We are doing a good job when teams put the ball in play to us,” Videmschek said. “Nine of our errors came in that loss to East Newton, and in that stretch we had played nine games in five days. We knew it would be a tough week, and when you’re tired, that mental part of the game starts to show.”

Videmschek said with only seven regular-season games remaining, Purdy is focused on consistency.

“We’re finally back to where we can practice,” she said. “Between games and rain, last week was the first time we practiced on our own field since March 18. We are putting in work on fundamentals and just staying sharp. The girls are energetic, and we’ve set goals that we can accomplish.

“We are putting them in some situations in practice we haven’t seen yet that we might in districts and sectionals if we get there.”

Videmschek said the No. 1 ranking is nice, but it does not guarantee anything.

“We have some tough games over the next couple weeks before districts at Miller,” she said. “We hope to get the No. 1 seed and continue to work to get better. We are taking it one day at a time and getting ready for each opponent.”

Against Springfield Catholic, It took only four innings for Purdy to bag the win. The Lady Eagles plated 8 runs in the second and 5 in the third on the way to victory, collecting 13 hits and allowing only 1.

Kinsley Mattingly led with 3 hits, and Dally Craig and Jaclin Fenske each added 2. Fenske and Robyn Schad each knocked 4 RBI. Schallert pitched 3.2 innings of the four, striking out 7 batters.

Purdy is in action again on Friday, hosting Lamar at 5 p.m.

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