Archive for Thursday, April 13, 2006

Opinion: These girls are clutch

April 13, 2006

Memo to area softball teams: no lead is safe against Basehor-Linwood.

No, it doesn't matter how late in the game it is, if they still have an out left the Lady Bobcats can come back on you.

BLHS softball coach Susan Mayberry has a lot of traditions in her program, including inviting past players back for Senior Night. But one of the most exciting traditions Mayberry's squads have is the late-inning rally.

Her Lady 'Cats just always seem to have a knack for turning momentum around and delivering the big hit.

Many of the current Lady Bobcats weren't around two years ago, but those who were certainly remember a fairly huge at-bat by Terra Nichols.

Nichols, then a senior, erased a two-run deficit in extra innings by blasting a walk-off grand slam over the left field fence at Field of Dreams. The homer was about as dramatic as any sportswriter could dare to dream. Home team down two runs, bases loaded, two outs and a full count. Nichols clears the bases with one swing.

I wasn't around for Chelsea Patton's similarly dramatic homer last year, unfortunately, but I've heard plenty about it. Another extra inning game, this time in the playoffs, her team desperately needing a run to keep hope of advancing alive.

Bang, the freshman delivered.

This year BLHS has already had another freshman deliver the big hit.

Not a home run, but no less important.

Annie King's solid single to center field last Tuesday forced a split with Mill Valley. King came up with the bases loaded and two outs and wasn't fazed at all, as she calmly knocked in the winning run.

King wasn't the only one to come through in the clutch last Tuesday, either. Erin Shore's double down the first base line drove in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, ensuring that the Lady 'Cats would at least force extra innings.

Shore had come up empty earlier in the game in good RBI situations, twice stranding runners at second and third. But, when the game was on the line and the pressure was on, she was at her best.

That seems to be the theme of Basehor-Linwood softball: come up big when your team needs you the most.

I firmly believe that can be attributed to the squad's chemistry. Mayberry and the girls are close-knit, like a family. They want to succeed not for their own personal glory, but to lift each other up.

It seems to me that such team spirit is a powerful force to fuel comebacks, especially in softball.

The Bobcats were down 4-0 at one point last Tuesday. That's an intimidating deficit, but they never seemed to lose hope.

Then again, when you know that you've got a whole bunch of teammates who have your back, being down by four doesn't seem like such a difficult situation.

You know that you can just do your job, get on base and somebody else will hit you in.

That's the formula the Lady Bobcats have used and it's been pretty successful the past couple of seasons.

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