Third time’s a charm as Oakville captures state softball title

Tigers softball team to have 10 players returning in 2011.

By BILL MILLIGAN

Pitcher Remy Edwards threw her first no-hitter and catcher Alexis Klable hit her first home run to power the Oakville Tigers softball team to its first-ever state championship last weekend in Springfield.

“We were thinking the third time is the charm,” Edwards said after striking out 15 hitters in the semifinal game against Webb City on Friday.

Oakville (26-1) qualified for the state championship each of the last three years and was determined to enjoy the long ride home after the 1-0 victory Saturday over the Truman High Patriots.

“There won’t be any sleeping on the bus ride home this year,” said third baseman Julie Kernen who, along with Edwards, has witnessed the softball program’s emergence onto a statewide stage.

Last weekend’s appearance in the state finals was the sixth in Tiger history.

“I’ve never had a team that’s struck out 15 times in one game,” Webb City head coach Walter Resa said Friday. “Oakville has a good team, I hope they win it all.”

The Tigers had two outs in the third inning against Webb City when Kernen hit a single and then advanced to second after a walk by Chloe Wolf. Another walk by Lauren Fussell loaded the bases before Klable hit one over the left-field fence — her first career home run.

“It was a 1-0 count,” Klable said. “She made a mistake and it came right down the middle. It felt great.”

After Klable’s grand slam, Edwards struck out six and allowed only one base runner to slam the door on a Webb City comeback.

Next up was Truman High from Independence. The Patriots entered the final on a 15-game winning streak, 27-6 on the year and a fine pitcher of their own in Paige Parker.

“She had most of our hitters down,” Edwards said. “She hit the corners, moved it around and had a great rise ball. Knowing how good she is made (the win) a lot better.”

But it was to be Edwards’ day.

She got the first two Patriots swinging and kept retiring them until Sara Jeffress worked a free pass in the fourth inning and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Parker. Edwards struck out two to end the scoring threat and that was all the offense she would allow as gathering clouds threatened rain throughout the rest of the game.

Kernen doubled to start the winning rally in the sixth. With first base open, Truman walked Wolf. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and then Oakville head coach Rich Sturm began making what proved to be a winning decision. Janelle Hackman went to third to run for Kernen and he gave Fussell the bunt sign.

The play worked as Hackman dove head-first under Tish Bradley’s tag.

“I just put my head down and ran,” Hackman said.

“I decided to try it,” Sturm said. “There’s no reason to drive all that way home wondering if I should have tried waiting for a hit to drive them in.”

The Tigers will have 10 players returning next year from this championship season.

Edwards will play for Miami of Ohio next year.

“Miami recruited me as a middle infielder.” Edwards said. “This was my last game as a pitcher; somebody told me it was a no-hitter.”

Click

for a gallery of photos from the games.