SPRINGFIELD, Mo. • The Troy softball team captured the Class 4 championship with a 4-1 victory over Blue Springs at the stadium field of the Killian Sports Complex Saturday.
The title is the first in the program's history.
"All of our hard work this fall finally paid off," Troy pitcher Liz Wiegand said. "I just love my team, and it was awesome to pitch that game."
Troy (29-4, No. 5 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings) jumped ahead with a single run in the top of the third inning.
Rachel Sullivan led off the inning with a single to left field, moved to second base on an Emily Crane single and scored when Morgan Oliver singled deep into the hole at shortstop.
"I know that it's a team sport, and we all gave everything we had," Sullivan said. "I was just glad to contribute and do my part."
Troy pushed the lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning as Coach Lance Richardson's “small ball” approach paid off in a big way.
Twice with runners on third, Troy turned squeeze bunts into run-scoring basehits. A Mackenzie Lawson squeeze scored Tiffany Hazelwonder, and Sullivan did the same to bring home Ashley Murphy.
"Being a freshman and being part of the first team to go to state was an honor," Lawson said. "Being able to win was even more of an honor. I was so excited (to get the bunt down), and I was glad to be a part of it."
Richardson saw the second and third runs as prime examples of something his team has done well all season.
"It's all a part of our catalyst this season," Richardson said. "We use good pitching, solid defense, timely hitting and putting pressure on the other defense. We squeezed in those two big runs, and it's the name of our game and it finally paid off."
Blue Springs (24-9) cut into the lead in the fourth inning. A Kennedy Dujakovich single with the bases loaded and no outs scored Erin Keeney.
Wiegand pitched out of the jam. After Dujakovich's single. Wiegand got two force outs at home and finished off the inning with an infield out..
"That hurt," Blue Springs coach Roger Lower said. "That's stuff that we work on and talk about. You have got to be able to do something more there if you want to succeed."
From there, Troy extended the lead to 4-1 when Crane scored Lawson with a single in the sixth.
For Crane, there wasn't much better a way to end her prolific hitting career, which includes the MSHSAA career hits record.
"For me to end my career with a hit, that makes me so excited," Crane said. "It was great."
Crane wasn't done, though.
She scooped up a grounder with one out in the seventh inning and caught the final pop-up to end the game.
"When that pop-up was hit and it was coming to me, I was just screaming on the inside," Crane said. "When I caught it, I just threw my hands up. I was ready to go and celebrate."
Wiegand gave up the one run on six hits to earn the win.
Kelsey Kessler suffered the loss for Blue Springs.