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Burks, Staggs lead Blair Oaks past Versailles

Payton Staggs of Blair Oaks connects on an inside-the-park home run during Wednesday’s game against Versailles at the American Legion Sports Complex.

Payton Staggs of Blair Oaks connects on an inside-the-park home run during Wednesday’s game against Versailles at the American Legion Sports Complex. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

Performances like these don’t come around very often. It’s almost unheard of when it happens twice in the same contest.

Blake Burks and Payton Staggs both delivered games to remember as the Blair Oaks Lady Falcons cruised to a 15-0 victory in four innings against Versailles on Wednesday evening at the American Legion Sports Complex.

“Once we found a field that was dry enough to play on, we were able to turn our focus and energy into playing a softball game and playing pretty well,” Blair Oaks head coach Sharon Buschjost said, referring to the fact the game was moved from Wardsville to Taos before eventually settling on the Legion fields.

Burks tossed a no-hitter and Staggs walloped two home runs and collected seven RBI in the Lady Falcons’ romp.

Let’s start with Burks’ no-hitter.

The senior right-hander allowed a pair of first-inning walks and had two runners reach via error in the contest. She was flawless other than that, striking out four batters.

“I don’t get that much of a chance to pitch sometimes, so it feels good when I do well when I’m in the game,” Burks said, noting it was the first no-hitter she’s ever pitched. “My placement with my fastballs was pretty good. My curveball and screwball were working pretty well.”

A few nice defensive plays were required to keep the no-hitter intact, including a shoestring catch by center fielder Mackinnley Hammacher leading off the fourth.

“Going into the game I thought I might give Blake and Taylor Gehlert an opportunity,” Buschjost said. “You don’t want to take away what she had here in this game with the no-hitter.

“It was just a mixture of making good pitches at times and some good defensive plays behind her. A couple of them had to be made to keep the no-hitter.”

Just as impressive as the no-hitter was Staggs’ day at the plate. The sophomore launched two home runs for the first time this season and second time in her young Lady Falcons’ career.

Even better, it was the third straight contest Staggs has blasted a homer, following homers against Fatima and Southern Boone.

“We’ve worked on my hitting and it’s really come along here lately,” Staggs said. “It’s been great. I’ve really been waiting on the ball and letting it get deep and hitting it in my powerhouse.”

Staggs got started early, smacking a two-run single to left field that highlighted a five-run first inning.

The cleanup hitter then hammered a three-run shot to left in the second. While technically an inside-the-park home run with the field’s unrealistically deep fences, the blast would have easily been out of a regulation-size softball field. Blair Oaks led 9-0 after two frames.

Staggs then capped her perfect 3-for-3 day with a two-run inside-the-parker to the gap in right-center, which likely would have gone for a triple on any other day.

“I’ve seen something that I don’t see very often as a coach,” Buschjost said. “Her offensive production has been hard to not notice. She is on an incredible stretch of games where the ball just has to look like a volleyball to her coming in there.”

Blair Oaks led 13-0 after the third and used a pair of runs in the fourth to close out the game on the mercy rule.

Burks, Taylor Markway Carli Buschjost added RBI base hits in the contest. Nicole Otto drew a bases-loaded walk that ended the game.

Sara Jones, Jolie Duffner and Markway all had two hits.

Blair Oaks (16-5) hosts Warsaw on Monday.

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