by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles softball team dropped a late lead against the visiting Truman Patriots on October 6th. The Patriots would score three runs in the top of the 7th inning to push ahead for their 4-2 victory.
Grain Valley pitcher Hailey Hemme hung tough on the pitching slab despite not having her usual pinpoint control during the first inning. The sophomore hurler would go on to strike out 13, walk 2, and only give up one unearned run during the first six innings before Truman found success late in the game.
“I feel like I pitched good today, but it was not my best. I couldn’t have done as well as I did today without my defense behind me and Malia’s (Gutierrez) clutch hit,” Hemme said.
“I pitched better as the game went along by focusing on what I can control. We have to let this game get behind us and focus on district games (upcoming).”
Hemme was aided by the defense of first baseman Ella Clyman. The top of the fifth inning witnessed Clyman stretch to her right and grab a line drive in the top of her glove that was headed to right field, ending the inning. Clyman would turn in another gem during the top of the 7th inning with a diving catch attempt in foul territory near the Eagles dugout that was ruled a trap and not a catch. The effort drew applause from her dugout as well as fans from both schools in attendance.
Lady Eagles second basemen Malia Gutierrez had a successful day at the plate going 2 for 3. Her second hit was the biggest, producing a home run to left field that just cleared the fence during the top of the sixth inning. The drive by Gutierrez put the Eagles ahead temporarily. Grain Valley’s entire bench greeted Gutierrez at home plate after she rounded the bases.
Gutierrez plays on the same summer softball league team as Truman pitcher Myel White. The two exchanged glares after Gutierrez called time late in her at bat in the sixth inning prior to White starting her windup. The game of cat and mouse paid off for Gutierrez as she didn’t miss the fastball offering that was centered over the plate.
“I was trying to back my team today with my approach at the plate. I am proud of this team in that we put our hearts on the field and left everything out there,” Gutierrez said.
“I play on the same summer team as the pitcher (Myel White) and I had to think of her as not my teammate to be successful. I switched things up by stepping out (during my at bat). I still love her and she’s a good pitcher.”
“We are going to give it everything we have during district play. We have a stacked roster. We know where we should be and have to make it happen.”
Lady Eagles head softball coach Garrett Ogle was upbeat with the advice he shared with his team after the game. Ogle encouraged his players to realize that their season was not over, reminding them they have the opportunity to be conference or co-conference champs and that they still have a district title to go win.
“We’ve had composure all year long. There have been a lot of tight games we’ve played in this season. I think we’ve won five or six one run games so far. This team’s poise has been impeccable,” Ogle said.
“I had it in the back of my head that Malia (Gutierrez) was going to come through in the sixth (inning). After that I had faith in our defense and pitching that we were going to shut them out the rest of the way and get a victory.”
Ogle continued, “(Hailey) Hemme is a great competitor as well. Her hard work lends her to understand what’s not working and figure out what is. She doesn’t panic and works her way through.”
Grain Valley’s record moves to 20-4 on the season. The Lady Eagles will play the Belton Pirates on October 8th prior to the start of the Class 4, District 7 Tournament from October 13th-16th.