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story.lead_photo.caption Players get ready Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, for a softball game in Jefferson City that saw the Capital City Lady Cavaliers earning a 6-5 win against the Rock Bridge Bruins in the Central Missouri Athletics Conference. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

Lydia Coulson and Capital City were two outs away from a win Monday against the defending state champs, and the top-ranked team, in Class 5.

The problem was, Rock Bridge had the bases loaded down two runs. The hitter at the plate, Sophie Schupp, and the one on deck, Addie Morris, were both due up after hitting home runs off Coulson earlier in the evening.

Coulson got Schupp to pop out to first baseman Olivia Wood, but the drama was heightened when Morris worked a walk on a full count.

The bases were still loaded, and now the Bruins were only down a run. Assistant coach Adam Grunden went out to the pitcher's circle.

"We've had those pressing situations before when things are starting to spiral out of control and we get too antsy and the pressure gets too high," Capital City coach Brett Skinner said. "We just wanted to go out there and just calm them down and just relax. Just make pitches and trust your defense."

The walk brought up Ella Stephens for the Bruins, and she worked a 2-2 count before slicing a ball on the edge of the infield.

The ball was dropping and looked like it was falling in for a single that would score multiple runs, but second baseman Kelsey O'Day cooly leaped into the frame and her glove snatched the ball out of the air to give the Lady Cavaliers a 6-5 win against the Bruins in a pivotal game early in the Central Missouri Athletics Conference season.

"As coaches, our expectation is very high and we tell them that all the time," Skinner said. "They lived up to it tonight and now they can see it. Hopefully, we can build upon that and remain at that level."

O'Day, the senior who is one of the players that has been with the program since its inception, was the one who got things rolling for Capital City five innings earlier.

The Bruins took the lead on Schupp's two-run bomb in the first, but after Coulson got a leadoff double in the second, she stole third to set up O'Day with one out.

O'Day sent a suicide squeeze right to Bruins pitcher Anna Christ, whose underhand toss skied over the catcher and into the backstop. Coulson scored and by the time the catcher had the ball in her glove O'Day was standing on second.

Jaiden Kausler walked before a passed ball but both her and O'Day in scoring position, runners on second and third with one out, before a bizarre game-tying play.

Wood attempted another squeeze and this time the pitcher completed the throw to Bruins catcher Addie Clay, but the home plate umpire accidentally called it a force out while O'Day was sliding into the plate.

Hearing the call, Clay didn't make the tag on what would have been a close play and the crowd groaned.

The field umpire and the home plate umpire conferenced before overturning the call and tying it at 2.

"That was huge," Skinner said. "Obviously a big turning point there to get those runs. She wasn't tagged. She was in there anyway, so the right call was made."

Then another mistake followed. Maysen Carr hit into another Bruins error that scored Kausler to give Capital City the lead after two with a three-run inning with only one extra-base hit.

"When you're facing a really good arm like we are, it's gonna be a lot more difficult for the girls to square one up," Skinner said. "So we like to do a little small ball. They have to execute and they did, and that's how you win games against good teams."

The game became a back-and-forth affair from there. Kennedy Schanuth hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the third and scored on a wild pitch before Bruins second baseman Kendall Watson scored on a groundout after leading off the fifth with a double of her own.

Center fielder Camryn Sharp pushed the lead back to two runs in the bottom half of the fifth with her second home run of the season. She sent a pitch from Christ up into the sky and a pair of Bruins outfielders ran to the wall before looking up and watching it clear the fence. Sharp was greeted by a mob of teammates at home plate after rounding the bases and giving the Lady Cavaliers a 5-3 lead.

Morris answered with a bomb of her own to left field in the top of the sixth to bring the Bruins back within one. Then Faith Karr scored Maysen Karr with an RBI triple in the bottom of the inning.

That set up Coulson with a 6-4 lead in the seventh. She only gave up one run after loading the bases with one out and now, Capital City remains undefeated in CMAC play.

Capital City has also now knocked off the defending Class 5 champion Bruins and Sullivan, the Class 3 champion. The Lady Cavaliers play defending Class 1 champion Vienna and Class 2 champion Father Tolton later this season and have proved so far they can compete with any team in the state after being a 7-17 squad two years ago.

"Never, never," Skinner said when asked if he saw this kind of quick turnaround coming. "Even last year, the jump we made last year it's just awesome. We've got a bunch of talented girls, and they work hard and it's just a fun group."

With three games left in the conference season, a CMAC title is within reach in just the program's third season. Its next game is against one of those conference opponents, Hickman, at 5 p.m. Thursday at Capital City.

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