Indians look to build off successs of capturing first ever district title

Runs came at a premium Wednesday night when School of the Osage visited Sullivan in sectional softball action.

After all, with two district champions squaring off with a trip to the Class 3 state quarterfinals on the line, it is the time of year where every team features a fairly good hurler on the mound. This time, the hometown Eagles managed to squeak by with just one more run than the Indians in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel.

Osage had its chances with runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings, but could only post a single run in the sixth when junior Payton Good brought home senior Arianna Neal on a sacrifice fly RBI to left field.

“We had our opportunities, but were just lacking that one big hit there,” Osage coach David Flaspohler said. “Down the stretch, we have faced some really tough pitchers and the thing that has been refreshing is our girls’ hearts and the ability to stay in it because the last several ballgames we’ve broke through in the late innings. It is one of those things where we were really comfortable all game long, even though we were not getting those runs across, because of what we have done.”

However, Sullivan sophomore pitcher Addison Purvis did not necessarily make things easy either after throwing a complete game where she surrendered just three hits and struck out nine while not allowing a single walk.

“Hats off to Purvis because she was keeping us off balance and she has some movement at the plate and a really great changeup,” Flaspohler pointed out.

Osage senior pitcher Skyler Smith kept the Eagle bats quiet for most of the night too as she threw six innings and allowed seven hits while striking out three batters of her own. Despite the Eagles taking an early lead with solo home runs in the first and second innings, Smith and the Indian defense found their composure and gave themselves the opportunity for a comeback.

Sullivan was no slouch this year either after compiling a record of 27-2 that included the program’s 10th straight district title, which the Eagles have won 17 of the last 19 and 18 total.

“I could not be prouder of her,” Flaspohler said of his senior hurler. “She has been constant for us all year and when you have that in the circle, then it really gives confidence to the defense... Holding the team that finished second in the state last year to 2-1, we tip our caps because that was a heck of a ballgame.”

And Flaspohler is hoping his club will soon return to the state playoffs because it is an atmosphere he immensely enjoyed being a part of and the skipper hopes his players feel the same way.

“I hope the girls get used to it (atmosphere) because it is crazy and it is amazing what it does to you,” he said. They got a taste of it and hopefully we stay hungry because this is the ultimate goal. For next year, we want to continue the things we started and the foundation we built upon our character, process and results. Our ‘C.P.R.’ we call it, and just control the things that we can. We did a great job of that over the last several weeks.”

However, the road to next season cannot begin without first addressing the seniors and giving credit for their contributions to the program. Flaspohler said Smith, Neal, Kristina Buckingham and Bonnie Beckett deserve plenty of credit.

“We are going to miss every single one of them,” Flaspohler said. “They have been with us the last four years and have really helped us along the way, been mentors to our younger kids and that is a positive for us.”

Time will soon tell if Osage can take that next step forward towards a state title.

“They know they have a little work to do, but we are right there so it is a matter of turning the corner a little bit and hopefully we’ll be back again,” Flaspohler pointed out.

Osage finishes the 2017 season at 13-11.