When the dust had settled and the final out was recorded, there were a total of 21 hits, five home runs and 16 runs in total. The Indians managed to pick up the majority of those runs and sent the visiting Mustangs home with a 9-7 defeat.

The bats had no trouble finding the ball when rivals Osage and Eldon got together on the diamond for the Tri-County Conference opener on Monday afternoon.

When the dust had settled and the final out was recorded, there were a total of 21 hits, five home runs and 16 runs in total. The Indians managed to pick up the majority of those runs and sent the visiting Mustangs home with a 9-7 defeat.

After trailing by as many as six runs, Eldon had the tying run on first base, but a strikeout courtesy of Osage senior Kerrigan Gamm thwarted the comeback and ended the threat.

“I just relied on our team and knew that everyone was in it and was going to give it their all,” said Gamm who recorded the save. “It was just trust and hard work and I knew we could get it done.”

Osage coach David Flaspohler had little doubt the hurler could get it done as well.

“She is a gamer and you put her in any position and keep her in the right mindset, she is going to prevail about 99.9 percent of the time,” he said.

Eldon certainly did not make it easy, though, as they outhit the Indians 12 to nine and were one big hit away from potentially changing the outcome. Osage freshman pitcher Carly Ward picked up her third win for the Indians this season after turning in 6 1/3 innings of work in the circle where she walked one batter and struck out nine while Gamm came in to take care of the rest.

“There were very few errors on both sides and it was just a hit parade today. There in the sixth and seventh inning, our defense faced a lot of adversity and pressure situations,” Flaspohler noted. “Those are some things we are going to work on, not only closing the door earlier but not getting ourselves into it in the first place.”

Eldon junior Madison VanHooser started the slugfest right away after smacking a two-run shot over the fence in the first inning to put the Mustangs up early. However, it did not take the Indians long to tie things back up at 2-2 after Gamm hit a solo shot in the first inning and senior Gracie Faulkner hit an RBI-single in the third.

Faulkner’s game-tying hit was a preview of what was to come as Osage busted the game open with six more runs in the fourth. Senior Aly Baker, Gamm and Faulkner all put runs across the plate and the offensive outburst ended with Faulkner’s two-run blast over the left field wall. Gamm added another solo blast over the fence in the sixth before the Indian offense quieted down.

Gamm led the Indians with a perfect 4-4 day at the plate with four RBIs while Faulkner added two hits and three RBIs of her own. Sophomore Paige Luttrell also added a hit and RBI while Baker did the same.

“I think we could have done better. We got a little outside our zone, but once we found it we scored and did good,” Gamm said after it took her team a while to find its firepower. “Hitting is always contagious.”

Flaspohler said it is all part of the team finding its identity.

“That is going to be completely up to them on who they want to be. Even with the four games in the Sullivan Tournament, almost each game we started the first and second innings getting our timing down and starting off a little slow,” he noted. “It was not until the later half of the ballgames that we got dialed in and kind of turned things on.”

VanHooser took the loss for Eldon after going all six innings in the circle where she walked and struck out two batters. However, she helped her own cause adding two hits and two RBIs while the Mustangs nearly completed the comeback.

It began in the sixth with RBI-singles from freshman Dajia Rudolph and sophomore Elizabeth Rush while freshman Chloe Ruark recorded an RBI after being hit by a pitch to cut the gap to 8-5. Senior Haley Clifton blasted a solo home run in the seventh and another RBI-single from Rush made it 9-7 before the rally came to an end.

“We are resilient. We don’t drop our heads and keep fighting,” Eldon coach Dusty Purnell said. “We ran into that a couple of times at Sullivan (Tournament). We were down against Pacific and Branson, we fought back and both times it came down to that last out... One hit, we win the game, and same thing here. If we put a couple of more hits there in that seventh inning, it is a different game.”

However, Purnell noted that his club would obviously prefer not having to make a comeback effort.

“We gave up a big inning in the middle of the game and we talk about that all the time. We cannot have those big innings because it will come back and cost us, especially with batters of Osage’s caliber,” he pointed out. “Osage is a good team, no doubt about it. They hit the ball hard, they pitch and play defense.”

Rush paced the Eldon bats with three hits and two RBIs while Rudolph also put up three hits to go with her RBI. Junior Kayleigh Fike, freshman Alivia Beanland and junior Lauren Hollenbeck all added a hit as well.

“Offensively, we are going to be alright. We are going to hit the ball and put it in play,” Purnell said. “Luckily tonight, the wind was blowing out and we put the barrel on a couple of them to help ourselves.

“If you put the bat on the ball square, it is going to be alright.”

Eldon falls to 1-4 and 0-1 in the Tri-County Conference, but the season is young and Purnell likes his team’s fight.

“Just keep doing what they are doing,” he said of the message to his club. “They fight every day in practice and work hard. It is the mental side of the game we have to work on right now. Just keep our heads up, know what is coming and know what to do when the ball is put in your court whether you are hitting or fielding.”

Osage (4-1, 1-0 Tri-County Conference) will look to win some games with a little less pressure as they embark on the rest of the season.

“Both of those girls (Ward and Gamm), we have faith behind their arms. If we continue to have that faith, our defense is going to work for them and we are going to make some plays at the end,” Flaspohler remarked. “We talked to them at the end about getting in a better rhythm on the mound so our defense stays lighter on its toes and is ready to move.

“Those pressure-filled situations are hard on everybody and if we can limit the amount of pressure pitches Carly or Kerrigan has to throw in the circle, they are going to be a little more relaxed and find the zone a little bit easier.”

Overall, though, the coach is pleased with the early results and the team’s mindset.

“I’ve learned that if we don’t stay within ourselves then things can get tough, but it is a good group of girls that are working hard, really want to succeed and are showing a lot of aptitude,” he said. “That in itself is going to carry them a long way not only in softball, but in life.”

Eldon was scheduled to host Fulton in its home opener on Tuesday and will host conference foe Southern Boone on Thursday at 5 p.m. Osage was also scheduled to return to the diamond on Tuesday at Tuscumbia and the Indians will return home for a battle with Fatima on Thursday at the same time.