Purdy softball survives sectional test

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Breanna Keeler prepares to throw a pitch during the Lady Eagles' win over Marionville on Monday as first baseman Andrea Humphrey gets ready to field. Jared Lankford sports@monett-times.com

Lady Eagles snag win under immense pressure

It took Purdy softball coach Lori Videmschek 23 steps to complete her continual pace up and down the first baseline during sectional softball action on Monday.

Videmschek, along with over 250 vocal Lady Eagles fans, nervously counted down the final few outs of Purdy's 5-4, come-from-behind win over Marionville.

Andrea Humphrey records an out at first for Purdy during varsity action on Monday. Jared Lankford sports@monett-times.com

When the final out was recorded, the pitcher's circle turned into a massive black and gold dog pile, and Videmschek fist pumped all the way to the site where her team celebrated a hard-fought victory in the game, which looked like certain defeat for the Lady Eagles in the beginning.

By the time the coach corralled her team, she could only remember to tell them two things: first, that she loved them, and second, they needed to thank the large contingent of Purdy fans.

Nerves were an issue for Purdy in the early going.

The Lady Eagles went a quiet 1-2-3 in their first at-bat and then dropped three routine fly balls in the bottom half of the first to fall behind 3-0.

"On the bus ride up here, we were awful quiet, and I was worried about that," Videmschek said. "We played tight to start [the game] and made three or four mental errors that gave them those runs, but we bounced back, we never quit and we stuck to our game plan."

Of the Lady Eagles' three losses this season, two had come at the hands of the Lady Comets, 1-0 and 2-1.

With the knowledge learned from those contests, Purdy's game plan was to lay off the rise ball and shorten their swings to get through the strike zone faster.

Purdy freshman Zoe Brown snags a throw out of the dirt to record an out for Purdy during sectional softball on Monday. Jared Lankford sports@monett-times.com

The Lady Eagles went to work in the second frame, stringing together three hits and a walk to plate one run.

In the third stanza, Purdy put together a three-run rally, with two outs, to take a 4-3 lead. Rion Boyd delivered an RBI single, followed a Sami House two-run double.

Boyd, who has seven hits in her last eight plate appearances dating back to the district title game, drew high praise from her coach.

"Rion is seeing the ball really well right now," Videmschek said. "She is sitting back and driving it. She almost hit a home run tonight."

Boyd agreed with her coach's assessment of seeing the ball well, but mentioned another advantage that she had at the plate -- the backing of the fans.

"It feels amazing to get this win," Boyd said. "We set our goals and to get this achievement makes us so proud of ourselves.

"Our fans kept me motivated the whole time, I knew that if I went down they were going to be there to pick me up. I didn't want to let them down."

Despite the game being played on Marionville's home field, the Lady Eagle fan base outnumbered the Lady Comet crowd.

The fans never stopped cheering the

entire match.

Andrea Humphrey records an out at first for Purdy during varsity action on Monday. Jared Lankford sports@monett-times.com

"I'll tell you what, our town is alive right now," Videmschek said. "You can't go to Walmart, you can't go to the grocery store or anywhere without someone stopping you to say how proud they are of Purdy softball. It's awesome right now."

Marionville was never retired in order and had at least two base runners in every inning but the second.

Purdy's starting pitcher, Breanna Keeler, allowed eight hits over five innings, walked one and struck out two.

Keeler was lifted in the sixth frame after hitting the first batter, and she was replaced by freshman Hallie Henderson.

Henderson walked the first batter she faced, but then rebounded to record a ground out and two strikeouts to escape the sixth unscathed.

"Hallie has done this all year for us," Videmschek said. "I put her in pressure situations. I see the competitive fire in her, and tonight, she just made the pitches necessary."

Henderson hit the first batter of the seventh inning and then recorded back-to-back strikeouts.

Marionville then picked up a single, but Henderson regrouped to force a ground ball out to third and end the game.

"I was really nervous when I came into the game, to be honest," Henderson said. "I hadn't pitched in a while, but coach told me to just throw strikes. I don't know at what point I settled down. I just remember seeing the last out recorded and having my teammates tackle me in the circle."

Purdy advances to the quarterfinal round and will host Stockton (14-11), a 5-4 winner over Diamond, on Thursday.

The two squads met on March 28, with the Lady Eagles earning a 8-0 victory.

"We played them earlier this season, and they're a good team," Videmschek said. "They have a good right-handed and left-handed pitcher, and they will hit the ball.

"We have got to be ready for them. I think being at home will be a big plus for us. Any time you get to this point in the season, every win is tough."

First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

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