Oakville High softball team eyes state semifinal game

By STEPHEN GLOVER

The Oakville Senior High School softball team is headed to the Final Four Fri-day after winning three playoff games in a 36-hour stretch last week.

The Tigers overcame a series of obstacles last week and came out even more battle tested than before with a 1-0 win over Rockwood Summit for a trip to the Missouri Class 4 state semifinal game.

For starters, Mother Nature played her cruel tricks on nearly every softball team in the area with rain throughout most of the week. That forced Oakville (22-5, 7-1 Suburban West Conference) to play Seckman in the Class 4, District 2 championship game at 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at Troy Buchanan High School.

As luck would have it, the Tigers didn’t get to start playing until 10 p.m. But when it was all said and done, Oakville came away with a 3-0 win over the Jaguars at 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The Tigers proceeded to get a few hours of sleep before getting up for school and then heading back to Troy Buchanan for a 2 p.m. game against Hillsboro (24-5) in which they defeated the Hawks 12-1.

On Saturday morning, Oakville had to be at the Ballwin Athletic Association for a 10 a.m. meeting with Summit, which they won 1-0.

When it was all said and done, Oakville head coach Rich Sturm was not at all happy about the playoff schedule.

“Inside of 36 hours, we played a total of three playoff games,” Sturm said. “So it’s quite an accomplishment in how we were able to win those three games because this is a very focused team.”

Now that Oakville is in its fifth Final Four, fans may remember the 2007 season when the Tigers went 30-0 before losing to conference rival Lafayette in the state championship game.

“Even though we’re at the same place now, there are different ways to get there (to the Final Four),” Sturm said. “That 2007 team was a thoroughbred and was just tough. This year’s team had a lot of question marks at the start of the season, and the turning point for us was our trip to Kansas City, where we actually lost to Kearney, who ironically we’re playing in the semifinals.

“But this team has a special feel to it. The kids are close both on and off the field.”

The Tigers will take on Kearney at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Heritage Park in St. Joseph.

Kearney (29-2) is coming off a 1-0 win over Lee’s Summit North with starting pitcher Kat Barrow looking to lead the Bulldogs to their first state championship since 2004.

The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers 2-0 in their previous meeting this season.