Mehlville Senior High softball team goes head to head with Oakville, but falls 12-1

Mehlville High softball team will focus on getting healthy.

By ROBERT CHALUPNY

The Mehlville Senior High School softball team went head to head with the defending state champion Oakville Tigers last week — at least for the first part of the game as the Panthers eventually fell 12-1.

Both squads were scoreless in the first inning of the Sept. 15 game. The Tigers threatened in the top half of the inning, but Mehlville center fielder Kayla Hezel threw out a runner at the plate.

Oakville started the scoring in the second, leading off the inning with a home run by Lauren Fussell. The Tigers grouped together some hits and plated one more with an RBI single by Erin Allen.

The Panthers went scoreless in the bottom of the second, but answered in the third, scoring on an RBI single by Amanda Lerbs and bringing them to within one run.

The Tigers tallied three more in the fourth with RBI hits by Savannah Fedorchak and Alex Frenz. After Lerbs was brought in to relieve Mehlville starting pitcher Michelle Boyer, the Tigers added seven more runs with RBIs from Allen, Rachel McNamara and Fussell, including a two-run home run by Lexie Klable.

Panthers head coach Kristin Wheatley was pleased with her team’s performance despite the outcome.

“It was actually a good game for us even though that score didn’t reflect it,” she said. “We had some stuff that we battled with. The field conditions were a little sloshy, but you have to come to play no matter what happens and bottom line, they had more hits than we did.

“We got to our spots. We had people where they needed to be. We made throws and we made catches. So, overall, it was not a bad game. They hit more than we did,” Wheatley added.

Oakville head coach Rich Sturm said he was pleased with his team’s performance, particularly the pitching.

“It’s a conference opponent, a district opponent, and any time that we play Mehlville it’s a friendly rivalry,” he said. “So you’ve got the rivalry involved and for us it keeps our winning streak going. We are now four in a row … I think that’s significant at this point in the season with a young team.

“Jordan Michalski hadn’t pitched in eight days, so it was good to get her back out there,” Sturm added. “… I thought the second half of the game she was much better than the first half and I think part of it was just the time off that she had.”

The Tigers defeated Parkway West 14-0 the next day and are now 11-3 on the season.

The Tigers will be focused on winning as many games as they can as they hope to soar during the second half of the season.

The Panthers, now 2-9 on the season, will focus on getting their players healthy and work on the basics as they look to return to that .500 mark.

“No. 1, our team needs to be healthy,” Wheatley said. “We lost four players last weekend. We only had 13 to start with, so we are pulling some younger players up. We have people playing positions they’ve never played before. So here we are midway through the season (and) we are trying to teach people new spots.

“That’s never a great thing when you are at the varsity level when you are trying to compete, especially the way that we’ve gone from the first part of the season, but we need to come together. I think this game was really good for us to show we’ve done some things and we’ve improved. So we are going to keep hitting. Our hitting has been good. They’ve just been finding gloves.

“We keep trying to get it through. We are trying to come together. We are communicating a lot more so we will just keep chipping away,” she added.