Exciting finish for Lady Falcons

In fifth-place game at C.C.I.

Jolie Duffner of Blair Oaks advances to second base after a throw home in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game against Mexico in the Capital City Invitational.

Jolie Duffner of Blair Oaks advances to second base after a throw home in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game against Mexico in the Capital City Invitational. Photo by Kris Wilson.

After three games of action-packed softball in the Capital City Invitational in Jefferson City, the Blair Oaks Lady Falcons decided to take it up another notch in their final game of the event.

Playing in the fifth-place game of the tournament, the Lady Falcons led for most of the game, allowed Mexico to tie it late, and then won it during a bizarre International tiebreaker.

When the dust settled — an appropriate metaphor on a dry weekend at Binder Park — Blair Oaks beat Mexico 13-7 in the last game to finish at the Invitational.

“What a weird, frustrating, exciting game,” Blair Oaks coach Sharon Buschjost said. “Just a lot of words to describe it, a lot of emotions, about everything you could get in one game was in one game. Good, bad and ugly.”

The Lady Falcons took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second. One run scored on an infield single by Lauren Viessman, another came in on a passed ball and the final came across on a groundout by LeeAnn Polowy.

They pushed the lead to 4-0 when Ashley Forck blasted a home run that easily cleared the left-field fence.

After the Lady Bulldogs closed to within 4-3 in the bottom of the third, Blair Oaks got one back in the fourth when Viessman and Polowy executed a perfect double steal, with Viessman scoring the run.

The Lady Falcons kept the Lady Bulldogs off the board in the bottom of that frame thanks to a terrific double play. It was their second of the game, and both were unconventional. The first one, in the first inning, went 3-4-7 in the scorebook; the second went 2-4-6.

“Sometimes those double plays have to come with a little bit of luck factored in,” Buschjost said. “And there might have been a little bit of luck, but there was some heads-up play to make sure.”

But 41⁄2 innings in front, Blair Oaks finally surrendered the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Mexico scored three runs.

That put the Lady Falcons in a precarious position, as the tournament’s 90-minute time limit for games came into play in the sixth inning. But Blair Oaks kept its cool and was able to tie it at 6.

Taylor Markway reached on an error, courtesy runner Kaitlyn Otto went to second on a sacrifice by Blake Burks and then moved to third on another error. Otto then came home on a single by Viessman, one pitch after Viessman was almost unable to stay at the plate after fouling a ball off her knee.

That proved to be the softball equivalent of a buzzer-beater, as time expired as Mexico was coming to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. The Lady Falcons needed to keep the Lady Bulldogs off the board, however, and did so with a 1-2-3 inning.

That sent the game to the International tiebreaker in the seventh, with each team starting its half of the inning with a runner on second and no outs.

The Lady Falcons put the game out of reach by pounding out four straight hits to start the inning, and also took advantage of four Mexico errors in the frame to push across seven runs.

Buschjost said the Lady Falcons proved a couple times during the tournament they could refocus after facing adversity.

“They showed that a couple times this weekend, first with Fatima and then with Mexico,” she said. “In tournaments, and this is our first of the year, you hope you learn different things about your team. (Bouncing back) was one thing they showed this weekend, and that was nice. They exploded in a couple games with big innings.”

Mexico got one run in its half of the seventh, but couldn’t muster any more.

Forck ended up with two hits and two RBI to pace the Lady Falcons on offense, while Jolie Duffner and Viessman had two hits and one RBI apiece. Markway chipped in with a pair of hits.

Taylor Gehlert, seeing her first significant amount of playing time on the varsity level, picked up her first varsity win by pitching the last three innings. She allowed three earned runs on just two hits while walking four and striking out five.

Payton Staggs started and pitched four-plus innings. She gave up four runs (one earned) on three hits while walking six and striking out four.

Earlier in the day, Blair Oaks pounded its way to a 12-5 win against Fatima.

Forck and Staggs had two hits and two RBI each, while Sara Jones, Duffner and Markway had two hits and one RBI apiece. Paige Siebeneck had one hit and two RBI.

Staggs got the win in relief, giving up no runs on four hits while striking out one in 41⁄3 innings.

The Lady Falcons started the event by going 1-1 on Friday.

Blair Oaks started with a 13-2 win against Battle.

Duffner racked up three hits and two RBI, Staggs had two hits and three RBI and Burks had a home run and two RBI. Markway added one hit and two RBI, while Forck and Taylor Thurston had one hit and one RBI each.

Staggs got the win, pitching four innings of two-hit ball with three strikeouts.

The Lady Falcons then dropped a 6-3 decision to Oakville.

Duffner and Forck had one hit and one RBI each, while Carli Buschjost had one RBI. Staggs took the loss, giving up eight hits while striking out four.

That proved to be the only blemish for Blair Oaks in the Invitational.

“The obvious goal is the championship,” Sharon Buschjost said. “We’ve never won the Jeff City tournament, so our obvious goal was to win it. Once a game is lost, your next goal is to go 3-1, and that’s what we did.”

Blair Oaks (7-2) will host Versailles at 5 p.m. Monday.

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