Lee’s Summit’s softball team ended last season posing for pictures around a big trophy. They began this season doing the same thing.
The Tigers gathered around another nice piece of hardware Aug. 27 after they beat Liberty 7-1 in the Gold Bracket final of the Greater Kansas City Softball Tournament at Adair Park in Independence. It should look nice in the trophy case next to the one they took home for winning the Class 4 state championship last October.
That state trophy represents the culmination of a season’s worth of hard work. This one represents a beginning and announces that the Tigers are picking up where they left off.
“It’s very exciting and I’m super proud of them,” Lee’s Summit coach Tracy Bertoncin said. “Still, there are things we need to work on, always.”
Everything worked for Lee’s Summit in the final game of the four-day tournament. The Tigers cranked out 12 hits. Pitchers Emily Robinson and Lexi Crabtree combined to hold Liberty to one run and five hits. And when Robinson wobbled, the defense came through for her.
Robinson had five walks as she seemed to struggle at times with the strike zone. In the fourth inning, with the Tigers up 4-1, she followed a leadoff single with two walks that loaded the bases.
After giving up an RBI-single to Liberty’s Alyson Gershner, Robinson got the next Liberty batter to hit a liner right back to her, and she fired the ball to third for the rally-killing double play.
“I was just trying make sure no runs scored or keep it to a minimum,” Robinson said. “Thankfully, my defense had my back.”
Bertoncin thought that inning said a lot about her Tigers.
“It showed to me that we’re here and tonight we were the stronger team,” she said. “For Emily to come through that kind of fire and for our defense to stand behind her like that, it’s huge.”
Lee’s Summit broke it open in the next inning with four runs on three hits. Alexis Reed capped the rally with a two-run double, adding to her three-for-four, three-RBI night.
“Honestly, I just stayed relaxed, kept my balance and had my eye on the ball,” Reed said.
Reed wasn’t the only Tiger swinging a hot bat. Bailey Baird, Natalie Dummitt and Alexis Parker also had three hits each.
All of which points to why Lee’s Summit is 5-0 and looking primed to win another big trophy. Bertoncin, though, would rather talk now about beginnings than endings.
“All season everyone is going to question us. ‘Are we going to repeat, are we going to repeat?’” she said. “To be talking about a repeat means that we would be looking back. And all we’re doing is looking forward.”
TITANS TAKE CONSOLATION: Lee’s Summit West rallied from four runs down to beat Raymore-Peculiar 6-5 in the Gold Bracket consolation final.
West trailed 5-1 after giving up three runs in the fifth, but the Titans scored three in the bottom of the inning and won it with two more in the bottom of the sixth. The game ended after six innings due to a 90-minute time rule.
Two Ray-Pec errors set up the tying and winning runs in the sixth. Carli Weber led off and reached when Ray-Pec’s catcher couldn’t come up with her dribbler in front of the plate. Caitlyn Knox reached on a throwing error by the pitcher, which brought home Weber with the tying run. Knox later scored the game-winner on a wild pitch.
“Mission accomplished,” West coach Eric Doane said of the Titans’ 4-1 tournament run. “It’s a learning process. We’ve got a lot of talent; we’ve got to find the right mix, the right lineup. So I’m pleased with what we got out of it. We hit our goal.”
NORTH GETS SILVER: Lee’s Summit North won the Silver Bracket with a 10-3 victory over Belton. The Broncos scored six runs in the sixth to break a 3-3 tie.
Katie Brandecker drove in three runs for North, which also got two RBIs from Taylor Urzendowski. Bray Dempsey had a two-run double and Emily Clark collected three hits. The Broncos finished the tournament strong, scoring 45 runs over their last three games.
Sarah Lewis got the win, giving up eight hits, three runs and two walks while striking out five.