JOPLIN — Keep the faith.
That’s exactly what Crowder head coach John Sisemore and the Lady Roughriders did in their Region 16 tournament game Friday night against arch rival Jefferson.
The Lady Vikings plated four runs — highlighted by a three-run home run by Abby McAteer — in the bottom of the first for the early lead.
Crowder allowed just a single run to Jefferson the rest of the contest and the Lady ‘Riders exploded for seven runs in the fifth en route to a 10-5 win at the Gene Bassman Softball Complex within the Joplin Athletic Complex.
In the big seven-run inning, Crowder started it with a walk and four hits in the first five batters, highlighted by a three-run Daryan Torix home run to put Crowder in the lead. Maggy Rieschick and Lexi McClellan added a RBI double and a two-run homer, respectively, before the inning was over.
“That’s been our mantra all year,” Sisemore said. “We live or die by, we’re very offensive and that’s one of the reasons we’re one of the top 10 hitting teams in the country year in and year out. If we get momentum, if we can string them together, we’re always going to hit well at some point. Our deal is that we hope to string them together and produce runs. We’re very fortunate that’s what happened.”
Crowder also took advantage of a change in playing conditions from earlier games Friday.
“We talked about it before the game,” Sisemore said. “We talked about it even in our earlier game. We talked about how the wind was blowing straight in and we need to stay on top of the ball and put pressure on the defense and work the short game. When the wind died, I knew when we were down 4-0 and the wind quit, I knew that we were going to have an opportunity to hit ourselves back into it if we make good decisions. I wasn’t afraid of a 4-0 deficit.”
Crowder roughed up three different Jefferson pitchers — all of them charged with at least two earned runs — for 13 hits.
Torix led the charge with three hits and five RBI, sparked by two home runs. McClellan and Kenzie Kallio, No. 1 and No. 2 in the Crowder lineup, each finished with three hits and Kenzi Spurgin gave Crowder four players with multi-hit games. Both of Spurgin’s hits were doubles. Kristen Wade and Maggy Rieschick rounded out the hits and Rieschick doubled.
Massanelli settled down and found a groove, earning her 26th win of the season with five runs allowed (all earned) on seven hits over seven innings. She struck out four and walked three.
In two games Friday, the Crowder defense committed no errors.
“We’ve been down like that several times and we know that we’re going to hit,” Sisemore said. “If we just keep within ourselves and make good decisions, we usually control our own destiny offensively.”
Crowder and Jefferson are definitely no strangers to each other in postseason play, and the game definitely carried the atmosphere of big money stakes.
“They’re our biggest rival,” Sisemore said. “They have been since I’ve been here and usually that’s the team we have to beat to try and win the region. Tony’s a good coach and they’ve always got a good program. Their kids are like our kids, they’re great and move on to four-year schools. Very talented and that’s our foe, and we’re just excited to get a win from them.”
Crowder plays top seed Three Rivers in the winners’ bracket final Saturday.
CROWDER 10, JEFFERSON 5
Crowder 002 071 0 — 10 13 0
Jefferson 400 100 0 — 5 7 2
Maddie Massanelli and Baylor Miles. Corryn Hill, Kaitlynn Williams (4), Taylor Norwald (5) and Allison Murphy. WP: Massanelli. LP: Williams. E: Taylor Barnes, Emily Brewer. HR: Daryan Torix 2, Lexi McClellan; Abby McAteer. 2B: Kenzi Spurgin 2, Maggy Rieschick. SH: Makaila Leonhart; Hannah Karl. SB: McClellan 2, Spurgin, Miles; Lofton. LOB: Crowder 8, Jefferson 4.