Over the summer the Van-Far varsity softball team kept sharp a number of different ways that included playing in a four-team league hosted by Community R-6 that also featured Montgomery County and Wellsville-Middletown.
While the Lady Indians also did a number of other things over the offseason like clinics that featured a maximum number of area experts all providing different areas of expertise and each doing what they do best, if you saw the team in tournament play last weekend you might be inclined to say it all paid off. Specifically Van-Far was at the North Shelby Tournament and fortunately for fans of the squad it started out hot and stayed that way for all three games of this one-day affair last Saturday.
"We started off the tournament hot and stayed that way all day. We ended with a total of 35 runs," said coach Kelly Borchert. "The girls played solid defensively all weekend and offensively it's nice to see our batting continuing to stay hot from last week. The girls are making adjustments faster and getting great results from them. Our bench and crowd really kept up our momentum during the long day and we were able to bring first place. We are hoping to continue the way we are playing this week."
In their game against Linn County, which they won 18-4, taking charge for the Lady Indians at 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs was Mallory Williams, Devyn Keller was 2-for-3 with three runs and two walks and Jordan Garner proved invaluable at 1-for-2 with three runs and one RBI. Another important peice of this puzzle for Van-Far was Kayle Jennings at 1-for-3 with two RBI, two runs and a walk and Makayla McAfee went 1-for-1 with three rtuns, two RBI and two walks.
"Mallory Williams got things going for us in the first with a Grand slam. We would then score by capitalizing on walks and passed balls until the fourth when we scored on a beautiful bunt by McAfee, a big two-run triple from Jennings and a two-run double from Alivia Graddy," Borchert said. "Jennings started the game pitching for us only allowing one hit, no runs, and no walks. Walton finished the game for us with only giving up four runs."
As for the Lady Indians 10-0 shutout of Bevier in which they outhit the opposition 13-5, even though neither team made an error in this contest, one reason for that is it only went four innings as Van-Far scored six runs in the first and two each in the third and fourth. Making those runs come to life were Keller at 2-for-3 with a run, Garner went 2-for-3 with two homeruns, three RBI and two runs and Colby Walton was 1-for-1 with one RBI.
"Jennings and Keller tag teamed to pitch a shut-out. We only allowed five hits the entire game. Again we started out hot with scoring 6 runs in the 1st," said Borchert. "Keller singled, we moved her on a bunt, Jennings doubled to score Keller and Garner Homered to put us up 3-0. Williams would then triple and Graddy would hit a hard ground ball scoring both, Baskett walked and Bunge would add our last RBI. We would gain four more runs on hits from Baskett, Bunge, Garner, Walton and Yager."
The Lady Indians matchup against Scotland County was certainly its closest, yet it still walked away with a decisive 7-1 victory thanks, in part, to Aubrey Bunge's 3-for-5 performance with one run and one RBI. Jennings also got in on the good times for Van-Far by going 2-for-4 with one RBI, Graddy was 2-for-4 with a run and Haley Baskett came through for her squad by going 2-for-3 with one RBI and a run.
"Jennings went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out ten and walking one. Williams got things going for us in the second with a lead off single, then the next seven batters would hit," Borchert said. "Add in seven more singles to put us up 4-0 and we would end the inning up by six runs with a double from Garner. Would put up one more run in the third with a couple hits."
In Eastern Missouri Conference action last Thursday the Lady Indians mercied Mark Twain 16-0 in three innings by charting 17 hits, six steals and Williams going 3-for-3 with three RBI, one homerun and two runs. McAfee also sported three hits, three runs, and three RBI in three at-bats, Keller came through at 3-for-3 with three runs and Jennings went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs.
"We started out hot against Mark Twain and never let up. Garner, Jennings, Keller, Williams, Baskett, McAfee (each) had multiple hits," said Borchert. "Williams, McAfee, Keller, and Jennings led with three hits a piece. Williams (also had) her first homerun of the year. Keller pitched a great game, only giving up a few hits and collecting three strikeouts."
When the Lady Indians played at Elsberry on Sept. 11 in EMO competition, that was most definitely the closest game this team has played in quite some time, and it was able to pull it out 6-4 in eight innings. Van-Far's runs in this contest came when it scored three in the fourth and one in the sixth, but it also allowed two in the second, one in the fifth and another run in the sixth. Thankfully for the team Alyse Jensen came in with a hit and two RBI in four trips to the plate and McAfee went 1-for-4.
"This was a good game for us. We were down the first half of the game and we had a few running errors, but we never gave up and we kept fighting back and forth for the lead and with some great catches by our leftfielder (Bunge) and centerfielder (Graddy) we were able to pull ahead for the win," Borchert said. "Williams, Keller, Garner, Graddy, and Baskett had multiple hits. Williams went 4-for-4. Jayle Jennings went eight innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits and striking out 12."
Van-Far next plays at EMO rival Montgomery County on Tuesday.