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Lady Falcons win 20th of regular season

WARDSVILLE — The Blair Oaks Lady Falcons are ready for the postseason.

That was certainly evident following their sweep of School of the Osage and Eugene on Tuesday night at the Falcon Athletic Complex. The two victories closed out a 20-4 regular season for the Lady Falcons, a campaign that saw Blair Oaks outscore its opponents by 175 runs. No, that’s not a typo.

“I have to brag about the team,” Blair Oaks head coach Sharon Buschjost said. “I think that goes hand-in-hand with the way our hitting has been. No matter what team we’re facing or what pitcher we’re facing, we’re getting hits. I think it’s been that kind of a season.”

Blair Oaks wrapped up a perfect slate in the Tri-County Conference, taking home the league title with a 7-0 record.

“We’ll take any honor, whether it’s conference, district and so forth,” Buschjost said. “All of those are meaningful and something the girls can claim and put on their resume or their letter jacket.”

Blair Oaks opened the doubleheader with a 15-0 victory against Osage.

The Lady Falcons put this one away early, sending 14 batters to the plate and scoring nine runs in the bottom of the first. Kaitlyn Otto’s three-run triple highlighted the frame, while Sara Jones added an RBI triple and Karlie Reinkemeyer had a run-scoring single.

Blair Oaks added a pair of runs in both the second and the third innings to take a 13-0 lead. The Lady Falcons ended the game in the fourth when Jolie Duffner stroked a two-run double with the bases loaded.

Even with the outcome never in doubt, Buschjost said games like that still are meaningful at this point in the season.

“The way I see it, we’re just so close to district play that we have to approach each game doing things fundamentally correct,” she said. “There’s so many things that one can gain from any kind of game, and I hope that’s what the girls are focused on.

“It’s not just about hitting, it’s about baserunning, it’s about reading balls that are down, it’s about sliding, coming into the base on the right side of the base, reading the throws. So there’s so many things that can be improved upon at this point in time.”

Otto, Duffner and Taylor Markway all had three hits.

Freshman Taylor Gehlert picked up the win, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out five.

“She’s earned every bit of her time,” Buschjost said. “She may have deserved a little more than she’s gotten this season. I think she’s waited patiently and I’ve talked to her about the important role she could be playing here toward the end of the season. She might be in a very important game at a very important time with a lot more pressure. We want to have her ready.”

Blair Oaks did lose LeeAnn Polowy to a hamstring pull in the first inning.

“We’ll keep ice on it and keep an eye on her,” Buschjost said.

Osage (7-13) begins Class 3 District 10 Tournament play against Versailles at 4:30 p.m. today at Southern Boone.

Blair Oaks picked up a 4-1 victory against Eugene in the nightcap.

The Lady Falcons picked up a trio of unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning to assume control. With runners on second and third, a two-out error brought a run home. Blake Burks followed with a two-run single lined to right.

“With the hitting the way it’s been for us, when given a second chance, we have made them pay,” Buschjost said.

Burks made it 4-0 with an RBI single in the bottom of the third.

Eugene got its run in the top of the sixth on an error, a sacrifice bunt from Ashton Bernskoetter and an RBI single from Lexi Dickerson. Just a freshman, Dickerson also pitched six strong innings.

“Very pleased with the progress our team has made during the season,” Eugene coach Mary Beth Anthony said. “Blair Oaks is a very, very well-coached squad. They’re a bunch of good ball players and I think we hung in there pretty well. With the absence of one inning, we were right there with them.

“I see a very bright future for (Dickerson).”

Blair Oaks’ Payton Staggs pitched a one-hitter, striking out 13.

“It was fun to watch,” Buschjost said. “She seemed to be having fun with it, and smiled a little bit more. That was good to see. She pitched a great game.”

Blair Oaks ended with 10 hits, including two apiece from Markway, Forck and Burks.

“We’ve done so well all year with that,” Buschjost said of her offense. “It’s something that has been contagious all year, and you hope it continues at a time in the season when it means the most.”

Eugene (11-12) begins Class 2 District 13 Tournament play against Tipton at 4 p.m. today at Russellville.

Top-seeded Blair Oaks will play the Osage-Versailles winner at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Southern Boone.

“This next season is more pressure, more intensity,” Buschjost said of the postseason. “While the regular season has some of that in different ways, the postseason, that’s what it’s all about. It’s performing and being better than the opponent on that given day.”

Blair Oaks is fresh off a third-place finish in Class 3 a season ago.

“I’m hoping it helps a great deal, beginning with districts,” Buschjost said of her team’s experience. “Hopefully we can take it well into districts and beyond. I’m hoping, with a lot of these same girls, that’s going to make a big difference for them. I thought that was a factor last year.”

Blair Oaks won the JV game with Eugene 2-1 to finish the season at 13-2.

Lydia Pointer hit a walk-off double for the win as part of a 3-for-3 day. Gehlert and Lindsey Kolb both went 2-for-3 and Nicole Otto had an RBI.

Kolb was the winning pitcher, striking out six.

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