Dark gray clouds hung ominously over the Rock Bridge softball field on Wednesday during the Bruins district game against the Camdenton Lakers.
The only thunder on this night, however, would come in the first inning, courtesy of Camdenton’s bats. The Lakers’ four runs in the opening frame withstood a late charge by the Bruins and gave Camdenton a 4-3 victory. The loss ended Rock Bridge’s season.
Camdenton (13-8) pitcher Danielle Taylor allowed only four hits, only two of which made it out of the infield, and added to an already brisk wind by fanning six Bruins (8-17) in a complete game victory. The Bruins offense, which was nonexistent for most of the game, pushed across one run in the fifth inning on back-to-back hits by Sadie Turnbull and Jenny Smith and added two more runs on a hard-hit single by Ashley Farmer in the sixth to make it close. Freshman pitcher Amy Bildner moved from shortstop to pitcher for the second inning and held the Camdenton attack scoreless for the rest of the game.
“I just thought that since we had four runs scored on us that we were just going to keep our heads down and we weren’t going to pick it back up. Starting about the fifth inning we started to pick it back up, and we really pulled through,” Bruins senior Kristina Leyden said.
“Everybody was all riled up, getting really excited. It was really fun to be in the dugout, it was probably one of the best dugout times of the year.”
After the game, Bruins coach Joe Henderson led his girls onto the neighboring baseball field and addressed his team. As the girls sat in shallow right field, a few tears fell. This was the last high school softball game for the 10 Rock Bridge seniors on the team.
More than anything, however, the Bruins realized that life does not end with a softball season.
“What a ride,” senior Kallie Carmichael said. “We had times when we were up, times when we were down, games we should have won, but we fought so hard this year. We’ve really grown a lot, not just playing-wise, but as a team. We came together, we’re like family.”
“We had a good season, we really picked it up from last year and previous years. We just really improved a lot,” Leyden said.
With their season over, the girls will now turn their attention to other things. Some will take time off, some will prepare for other sports. Carmichael already has her eyes on a new way to use her time.
“I’m just going to hit the gym. My focus now is track,” she said.
Before the game, Carmichael said that though she knew this could be her last game, that there was only one way to prepare for it.
“I just keep telling myself that if I play hard and leave everything on the field, then I’ll be all right,” she said.