Oakville High softball team ends ’09 season with second-place finish in state

Senior Maggie Ruckenbrod, right, hoists the Missouri Class 4 State's second-place trophy above her head as senior pitcher Kari McIver's look expresses the team's disappointment with the outcome. Bill Milligan photo

Senior Maggie Ruckenbrod, right, hoists the Missouri Class 4 State’s second-place trophy above her head as senior pitcher Kari McIver’s look expresses the team’s disappointment with the outcome. Bill Milligan photo

By STEPHEN GLOVER

Since the 2001 season, the Oakville Senior High School softball team has reached the semifinal game of the Missouri Class 4 State Championships, but the one goal the Tigers have not been able to achieve is capturing a state title.

That state title remains elusive for Oakville as the Tigers dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Jefferson City in the state championship game Saturday at Heritage Park at St. Joseph. The Tigers defeated Kearney 7-5 on Friday before falling to the Jays on Saturday.

“This was a tough loss,” Oakville head coach Rich Sturm told the Call. “Jeff City is a good team and their pitcher was the best pitcher we’ve seen all season. So you’ve got to give them credit for what they were able to do.”

The Tigers played Jefferson City to a scoreless tie through the first six innings before the Jays’ Kim McDaniel slapped a single through the Oakville infield. Sophomore pitcher Morgan Evans came in to pinch run and advanced to third on a swinging bunt by Marsha Pendilton, who advanced to second on the throw to third. Everyone anticipated a squeeze play and when Oakville catcher Maggie Ruckenbrod threw to third to pick off Evans, the ball hit Evans’ helmet and bounced into the outfield. Both runners scored.

Oakville bounced back in the bottom of the seventh inning when Ruckenbrod doubled to drive in Danie Farnam, trimming Jefferson City’s lead to 2-1. But the Tigers’ lone score of the game was just not enough to bring home the state championship.

“We put ourselves in a position to win and it just didn’t happen,” Sturm said. “This team has come further than any other team that I’ve coached and I’m extremely proud of their accomplishments.”

Oakville starting pitcher Remy Edwards took the loss, giving up two unearned runs on six hits in seven innings.

She struck out nine batters and walked just two for her fourth loss of the season. She finished the year with a 19-4 record, which included 189 strikeouts and a 0.79 ERA.

“Remy once again threw the ball really well,” Sturm said. “She did everything that she could and put the team in a position to win.”

Ruckenbrod, who drove in Oakville’s lone run of the game, walks away from her four-year career as one of the best players to ever wear the black and gold for the Tigers.

She finished the year as the state’s leading hitter with a total of 186 hits and a .500 batting average. She also had 22 RBIs and seven stolen bases.

“All the things she does on and off the field make her a smart and savvy player,” Sturm said. “She’s such an all-around player and is one of the best that I’ve ever seen or coached — period.”