Purdy, have mercy!
Lady Eagles no-hit Exeter to win district championship
The Purdy softball team’s Class 1, District 5 campaign was a week of three games with similar results, as the Lady Eagles defeated their opponents by a combined score of 44-0 en route to a district title.
Purdy (27-1), the No. 1 ranked team in Class 1, capped the display on Thursday with a 14-0, five-inning no-hitter over Exeter at Miller High School. The Lady Eagles bested Wheaton 15-0 on Monday in three innings, then dispatched of Billings 15-0 on Wednesday, also in three innings.
“We’re definitely relieved to be out of districts,” said Kinsley Mattingly, senior lead-off hitter for Purdy. “We have one goal, and we knew what we wanted and needed to do here — our plan is a state championship, and these games were bumps in the road to get there.”
Lori Videmschek, Purdy softball coach, said she was not sure what Thursday’s game would bring.
“Exeter is a good team, and we knew they would battle,” she said. “They are coached well, and we had to be ready to play. The key for us was we really hit the ball well. We usually hit hard and aim for gaps, but [Thursday] we had a strong bunt game and moved runners. We tried to get our speedsters on and do some bunt-and-runs. We played Exeter earlier in the year and didn’t think they were strong covering our speed, I don’t think Exeter was prepared for us to play the bunt game, so that caught them off-guard.”
Purdy’s plate movement was exceptional in the game, as the team moved multiple runners uncontested from first to second. The Lady Eagles made a habit of getting runners on second and third, especially in the 9-run fourth inning, then driving in runs with hard-hit drives to the outfield.
“I’m proud of the way the kids came out and played at the plate, and it wasn’t just one of them — it was the whole team,” Videmschek said.
Mattingly said the switch in the gameplan was welcomed by the girls, even though they are known for their heavy bats.
“All season we’ve been a strong hitting team, and we’ve broken the school’s season home run record this year, but in this game, we just wanted to get on base every time,” she said. “We wanted to move those runners to second, then eventually hit them to home.”
The fourth inning was when momentum swelled for the Lady Eagles. Up 5-0 in the bottom of the frame, Purdy left runners on first and second. A fly ball to right field sent the runner on second heading home, but the ball was caught and Schallert was called on to end the game in the fifth, which she did with a strikeout.
Mattingly said the bullpen was itching to get the fourth-inning finish.
“We thought at 14-0 we were going to get it, and we all had our water bottles in our hands ready to go soak Coach V,” she said. “But, we trusted in our pitcher and our defense to get those outs.”
The team still was able to celebrate with its coach, dousing her with the water jug and numerous bottles of water after the photos were all taken.
Jaclin Fenski and Bayleigh Robbins led the Lady Eagles in hits with 3 apiece, and Mattingly, Jessi Hoppes and Annabelle Bowman each had 2. Bowman cracked the most RBI with 3, and Mattingly, Robbins and Robyn Schad each had 2.
On the mound, Schallert went all 5 innings, allowing no hits and striking out 12. The only Lady Tiger to find a base did so after a Purdy Error.
The Lady Eagles also benefitted from a handful of Exeter errors, a couple of which resulted in runs scored.
District play behind them, Videmschek said the team is now dialed in on the state tournament and a quarterfinal matchup with Hume, set for Wednesday in Purdy at 2:30 p.m.
“We’ve been at the quarterfinal point before and lost, so we are taking it one game at a time,” Videmschek said. “If we do what we are capable of doing offensively and defensively, we will be alright. We talk a lot about doing the little things right, and that’s what we’ll have to do to keep playing.
“We’re 27-1 right now, and that’s amazing. If you had told me that at the start of the season, I don’t think I would have believed you.”
Mattingly said the team expects the upcoming games to be tougher, but nothing the Lady Eagles cannot handle.
“All season, we have not faced a pitcher we couldn’t hit,” she said. “The state level will be tougher, but with our hitting skills and our mental strength to move past any errors, we can focus on what we have ahead of us. We are like sisters. We play like a family and always have each others’ backs, and that will help us.”