COLUMBIA — As the championship game of the Kewpie Classic Invitational stretched into extra innings, onlookers canvassed the field from every direction. Fans of other teams wandered over to the field, settling in to watch the conclusion. Still more people gathered behind the right field fence, peering in at the action.
Conner Logsden didn’t notice any of this.
Rock Bridge’s sophomore pitcher threw 11 innings for the Bruins, carrying the team to a 2-1 win Saturday over Parkway South. Despite the crowd, the opponent and the exhaustion that comes with an extra inning game, Logsden kept her cool.
“I don’t really get nervous in these games. It was a big game, but I couldn’t let that get to me,” Logsden said.
As the game wore on and the teams remained deadlocked, Logsden said that some teams would’ve lost focus or become emotionally drained. The Bruins (19-3), on the other hand, stayed even-keeled.
“We’re girls, so everything gets mental eventually,” Logsden said, laughing. “But not this game.”
Finally, in the bottom of the 11th, sophomore Lindsey Grant singled in Lauren Fuller to give Rock Bridge the victory as well as the tournament championship. Grant, the only Bruin who didn’t strike out against Patriots pitcher Sheridon Sprague, said that her walk-off hit came with some unexpected consequences.
“I was happy, of course,” Grant said. “I got banged on the head a little bit, with everybody hitting my helmet, but it was a good feeling.”
Rock Bridge coach Janel Twehous said that one of Grant’s greatest strengths is that she doesn’t get nervous. She just keeps swinging.
“She does not let the pressure get to her. She goes up there and hacks away,” Twehous said. “She hacked away today, and we had to have her in the lineup.”
While Logsden and Grant were the key contributors in the championship game, Twehous said she was proud of her entire team’s passion throughout the tournament.
“I told them that they have made me extremely proud. They played their hearts out this weekend,” Twehous said. “I saw passion. I saw girls that wanted it this weekend, and that’s huge.”
As for the decision to start a sophomore over some of the team’s more experienced pitchers, Twehous trusted her feelings.
“I thought she was ready. I saw that she was ready. I went with my gut feeling … and my heart,” Twehous said.
Twehous laughed and smiled, before stating the obvious.
“I’m very satisfied with my decision,” Twehous said.
Hickman disappointed against Blue Springs
Hickman was one minute away from a victory.
After six innings of play Saturday in its third game of the Kewpie Classic Invitational, Hickman led Blue Springs 2-1. Tournament rules state that no inning is allowed to start after the game has exceeded one and a half hours. Before both team’s players trotted onto the field to begin the seventh inning, that time limit was about to expire.
“The clock is dead in one minute,” the umpire yelled to both sets of coaches.
Nevertheless, the teams warmed up, took to their positions, and just within that time limit, play resumed.
The chain of events proved unfortunate for the Kewpies. Blue Springs finally got the best of Hickman pitcher Riley Wilson, spraying balls into the gaps and scoring five Wildcats in the top of the seventh inning. Hickman was unable to respond in their half of the frame, and Blue Springs walked away with a 6-2 win.
That one minute ultimately cost the Kewpies five runs, and a win.
Hickman coach Courtney Haskell said that her team didn’t even think about the time limit going into the final inning. Instead of focusing on details out of their control, the Kewpies need to learn how to finish off their opponents.
“You have to be able to finish,” Haskell said. “We make one more play, get one more bunt down, get one more out somewhere — and it changes the whole game.”
Junior centerfielder Sydney Washington echoed Haskell’s sentiments and said the team needs to do a better job of keeping runners on base.
“We just need to be able to finish a team off. We need to keep pressure on the whole time and keep runners on,” Washington said.
Hickman won its final game of the tournament Saturday beating St. Dominick 7-3. Before the Blue Springs game, the Kewpies lost 5-3 to Park Hill and beat Pattonville 15-5 on Friday.