The opportunities were there for Jefferson City's taking Thursday night.
The Blair Oaks softball team was glad the Lady Jays didn't gobble them up.
Jefferson City left 13 runners on base and its late rally fell short in a 5-3 loss to Blair Oaks at the American Legion Sports Complex.
The Lady Falcons took advantage of errors and mental mistakes that doomed the Lady Jays early on. Blair Oaks led 4-0 after two innings and Jefferson City never really recovered.
"As I told them after the game, the errors that we're making kill us because we allow runs to cross the plate," Jefferson City coach Lisa Dey said.
Blair Oaks took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run single by Payton Staggs.
The top of the second turned disastrous for the Lady Jays. After a one-out single by Blair Oaks' Blake Burks, LeeAnn Polowy, who had two hits, lifted a fly ball to center. It got over the center fielder's head for a triple to make it 3-0. Sara Jones then drove home Polowy with a single to make it 4-0.
"That ball was catchable," Dey said.
The Lady Falcons were happy to take advantage. They added an unearned run in the sixth off of Jefferson City starter Krista Brickey to take a 5-0 lead.
The miscues for Jefferson City weren't limited to the field.
A mental mistake on the bases likely cost them a run in the fourth. With a runner on first and two outs, Darby Brundage singled to right. Blair Oaks tried to throw out the runner going from first to third, but threw the ball off the fence in front of the Lady Jays' dugout. However, it caromed right back to Blair Oaks third baseman Lauren Viessman, who was able to help nab the runner after a short rundown.
"You tell kids over and over that you need to think the game," Dey said. "It's not just walk on the field and that's it. All the stuff that goes in, factors to everything around you. Think a play ahead, or where the backstop is."
Jefferson City couldn't figure out Staggs when it needed to the most. She got into and out of trouble all game, as Jefferson City had at least two runners on base in all but one inning.
"Whether it was a hit that put runners on, or a walk or two, I felt like we found ourselves with runners on," Blair Oaks coach Sharon Buschjost said. "But having said that, that's when (Staggs) seemed to be on her game and came through on some 3-0 counts where she had to come back."
The Lady Jays finally broke through in the sixth on an RBI single by Brundage and a two-run single by Brooke Rozier. After a walk loaded the bases, Staggs induced a pop fly to end the inning.
Staggs walked seven and struck out four, while Brickey walked just two and struck out two.
"Payton's a good pitcher, and I think as a good pitcher you have to have different mentality when you are put in different situations," Dey said.
Jefferson City had the tying run at the plate with no outs in the seventh, but two ground outs and fly out ended the game.
Blair Oaks outhit Jefferson City 9-7. But the key stat was the Lady Falcons left just six runners on base.
"They are a team that can explode for runs at any time," Buschjost said. "There's always that feeling any time an inning starts with them, there's always that potential. There's that feeling."
Brundage and Katie Tambke had two hits each for Jefferson City (9-2) which is scheduled to play Rolla at 6:30 p.m. today at the Sports Complex. Blair Oaks (8-2) plays today in the UCM Tournament in Warrensburg.
Blair Oaks won the JV game 4-0 as Lydia Pointer had two RBI. The game was shortened to three innings due to lightning.