COLUMBIA — It was the fifth time in four years that the Rock Bridge and Hickman softball teams have played at University Field, which the Missouri softball team calls home. For many players, Thursday night's game brought mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement.
"My daughter was very nervous last night," said Max McCoy, the father of the Kewpies' second baseman Autumn "Otter" McCoy. "She was pacing around yesterday and had trouble sleeping last night."
Max McCoy said he comforted his daughter by telling her, "relax, you know what to do."
Danny Grant, the father of Bruins catcher Lindsey Grant, said the extra emotions are understandable.
"The girls are more nervous than usual for two reasons," he said. "Number one, the venue is very unique, and number two, it's a rivalry game."
Cheering from the crowd came into play during the singing of the national anthem before the game when the final line "... and the home of the ..." was punctuated with cries of "Bruins" and "Kewpies."
Many of the players on both sides of the matchup are friends from playing in summer leagues together. The rivalry is competitive but also friendly. When Shelbie Atwell, the first batter for Rock Bridge, stepped to the plate, she smiled at a few of the players on Hickman's team.
Hickman coach Courtney Haskell told her players not to be fazed by the situation.
"It's just like any other game," Haskell said. "We treat it like any other game, one game at a time."
Hickman won 9-2 in a rain-shortened game of five innings.
Highlighted by Hickman senior Sydney Washington's first inning triple off the outfield fence, the Kewpies scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings. They took over the game in the fourth after junior Allie Dishinger hit a three-run home run and junior Riley Wilson followed it with a two-run home run for a 9-1 Hickman lead.
Rock Bridge, which scored runs in the third and fifth innings, had pushed across another run in the sixth when the game was called.
"At no point did I think 'we've got this'," said Haskell, whose team earned its first win in the rivalry in four years. "Rock Bridge is a heck of a team, and they played a heck of a game."
Hickman (9-4) plays next on Saturday at Oakville. Rock Bridge (9-2) is set to play Monday at Pattonville.