Osage did not forget to pack the bats in the trip to Eldon Monday night in the Tri-County Conference opener.
The Indians put up 19 total hits and the end result was a 20-4 win over the rival Mustangs at Clawson Field.
“From day one and the first day of fall practice that is what we talked about. We knew we were going to be able to play some defense so what we really focused on was, ‘Hey, let’s get 15 to 25 hits a game,’” Osage coach David Flaspohler said. “Let’s make that our goal because hitting is contagious and the funnest part of the game.”
And having fun is exactly what Osage did. The hit parade began in the first inning where the Indians plated two runs on an RBI double from freshman Paige Luttrell and a sacrifice fly RBI from junior Payton Good.
Then, Osage proceeded to add six runs in the third inning, a single tally in the fifth, two runs in the sixth and nine runs in the seventh. Senior Skyler Smith paced the offense with five hits while Good and senior Arianna Neal collected four RBIs each.
“It felt really good. It has taken four years to get the confidence to go up at the plate and do what we do,” Neal said of the offense. “It feels good to help support my team and to see the confidence build among everyone.”
Good was more than happy to do her part as well.
“I’m just glad I can help the team, put my two cents in whenever I can and always be there for them and help score as many runs as I can,” she stated.
With plenty of run support to back her up, Smith did not disappoint her teammates either. The hard-throwing senior hurler threw a complete game allowing three hits while walking four batters and striking out nine. While Smith is confident in her own abilities, she placed just as much trust on the defense to help her out as well.
“I think our defense is really strong. We still have a lot to work on and it helps a lot having a catcher that knows when to call what pitch and how to frame the ball whenever we need it,” Smith noted.
“Yeah I get tired,” the senior added with a smile after the complete game, “But it helps whenever I have people I can trust behind me to make plays and help me so I don’t have to throw as many pitches.”
But Smith also has composure, keeping her cool in any situation, and Flaspohler said it makes the senior stronger.
“Once she works ahead in the count, she can really start to get in the groove and be dangerous for us,” the coach said of the senior. “She held her composure out there really well and especially having a young infield. They are trying their hardest and Skyler is really compartmentalizing that stuff and really focusing on the things she can control.”
Eldon came into Monday night’s home opener after a 1-4 finish in the Sullivan Tournament. The Mustangs are young this season having just one senior and two juniors while the rest of the team is made up of freshmen and sophomores so the group is quickly gaining experience.
Eldon used four different pitchers, who have not seen a lot of varsity action, Monday night and Coach Dusty Purnell said they just simply ran out of gas. However, the team certainly had its chances to do more damage than the four runs the team scored. The Mustangs had the bases loaded twice, but were only able to produce one run out of it when the score was much closer.
“We just never came up with timely hit. We can’t leave them out there when we are playing a team like that,” Purnell remarked.
Sophomore Lauren Imler added two RBIs to lead the Mustangs while fellow sophomore Kayleigh Fike, who made the All-Tournament Team at Sullivan, added an RBI and freshman Elizabeth Rush scored on a wild pitch. Although Osage’s lead quickly grew, Purnell was glad to see his team continue to compete no matter the situation.
“That was one thing we talked about after the game,” Purnell recalled. “The girls just kept fighting and there was no quit in them. They kept bearing down, making plays when they had to and never hung their heads. They kept them high, kept fighting and that is what we got to have. For us to make any strides, we have to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”
It may be tabbed as a rebuilding year after Eldon’s district title run a season ago, but Purnell and his staff have embraced the challenge at hand and will do their part to help the club make progress. With as many as 13 potential games this week, there will be plenty of experience to be gained.
“We will play up to 13 games this week alone so it is going to put a little chink in us,” Purnell said. “Hopefully we make it through the week, grab a couple more wins here and there and ease into the next week with two games. We are going to be ready for some rest for sure, but we are not going to turn down any games right now. We need all the reps we can get.”
For Osage, the key to success this year is “C.P.R.,” which stands for character, process and results.
“Once we take care of the character piece and be good citizens, teammates and people, then we focus on being 1-0 today, one pitch at a time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves,” Flaspohler said. “Then the ‘R’ in the ‘C.P.R.’ is results and they’ll take care of themselves if we can take care of the first two pieces.”
They'll also look to continue having some fun in the process.
"Just enjoy the day, come out and love the sport because that is why we are all here," Neal said.
Osage (2-2) was scheduled to host Tuscumbia Tuesday night in the home opener and will visit Fatima on Thursday at 5 p.m. Eldon (1-5) took on Fulton Tuesday night and the Mustangs will visit Southern Boone on Thursday at 5 p.m.