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T-Bird is the word; Gerwitz helps Fort Zumwalt West to rare win over Troy

T-Bird is the word; Gerwitz helps Fort Zumwalt West to rare win over Troy

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TROY, Mo. — Tatum Gerwitz can't remember the last time she had a more eventful trip around the bases.

The Fort Zumwalt West senior outfielder started her fifth-inning plate appearance against tradition-rich Troy Buchanan on Tuesday by taking a riseball off her kneecap. She painstakingly walked to first base and promptly stole second. In the process, the Trojans infielder stepped on Gerwitz's hand as she dove into the bag.

"It was bleeding for a little bit and you can still see the spike mark," she said as she proudly showed off her badge of honor after the contest.

Gerwitz was hurting. But she didn't display a limp. Or a shake of the injured hand.

One batter later, she stole home with an aggressive dust-filled dive to the plate on the back end of a double steal that tied the contest.

That gritty effort exemplified the Jaguars courage as they rallied for four unanswered runs over the final three innings to record a 7-4 win in the GAC South Division softball showdown in Lincoln County.

Zumwalt West (8-2) exorcised some personal demons with the triumph over the Trojans (7-2), who had won 10 of the previous 11 games between the teams.

Troy, which captured Class 4 state titles in 2016 and 2011, dominated the series the past decade or so with 23 wins over the prior 25 meetings dating back to Sept. 20, 2007.

But thanks to Gerwitz, and some clutch crunch-time pitching from junior Lydia Feiste, the Jaguars rid themselves of a personal jinx.

"I wasn't sure we'd ever beat them," Gerwtiz said.

Explained senior shortstop Julia Crenshaw, "It's about time."

Gerwitz reached base on all four trips to the plate out of the leadoff spot in the batting order. She scored twice, drove in a run and was in the middle of three of West's four scoring innings. She also stole three bases giving her 13 thefts in 14 attempts this season.

"She's the perfect definition of a table-setter," West coach Ryan Oetting said. "When she gets on, she can do a lot of different things and wreck havoc on the defense. If she's on base four times in a game, it's likely we're going to have a lot of success."

Gerwitz, who goes by the nickname "T-Bird," has committed to play at Southeast Missouri State University. She is known for her toughness.

"I knew she wouldn't come out of the game, no matter what," Feiste said. "Getting hit is not going to bother her."

Added Crenshaw, "She's just a warrior."

Gerwitz began the game with a single to start a three-run uprising against Troy freshman southpaw Macie Hunolt, who came into the game with a 3-0 mark. Crenshaw's two-triple and a run-scoring hit by Freise contributed to the damage.

"We wanted to start out strong," Gerwitz said.

Gerwitz's action-filled dance around the bases tied the contest 4-4 and set the stage for a go-ahead, two-run outburst in the sixth. Mary Kruse and Lindsay Laughlin singled with one out and Kruse eventually came around on a throwing error. Gerwitz pushed the lead to 6-4 with a ringing single up the middle. 

Feiste did the rest.

After surrendering four runs on seven hits over the first three innings, she turned into an out-recording machine allowing just one hit the rest of the way.

"I always seem to get better as the game goes along," Feiste said.

Oetting felt her bounce-back effort was the key to the comeback.

"Once we got the lead, she stepped up a little bit," he said. "She got her confidence and decided she was going to shut (Troy) down."

The Jaguars got a leg up in the conference race with the win. They are the only unbeaten team left in league play.

"One of our main goals this season was to beat Troy," Gerwitz said. "To come here and beat them in their own home, it feels good."

The Trojans took a 4-3 lead in the third behind junior Alivia Daniels, who had two hits and drove in three runs.

"(West's) lineup is so athletic, they put so much pressure on you," Troy coach Lance Richardson said. "I told our girls, 'I feel like they're better than us right now. We've got work to do.' "

The Jaguars are looking for their first outright league title since 2015.

"This is a celebration for us," Gerwitz said. "It shows us we can do anything."

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