There is still plenty of softball left to go, but Senior Night came a little early this year with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and when the Tigers topped Macks Creek 16-1 in three innings on Tuesday night, it just added to the excitement of what this program may be capable of.

Versailles senior Lauren Garrison knows just how far her team has come over the years.

When Garrison was a freshman just four years ago, the Tigers won a single game all season. Since that time, the program has steadily improved winning five games her sophomore season, seven games when she was a junior and now, the team is sitting at 3-1 early in her senior year.

There is still plenty of softball left to go, but Senior Night came a little early this year with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and when the Tigers topped Macks Creek 16-1 in three innings on Tuesday night, it just added to the excitement of what this program may be capable of.

“Really, just keeping your head up,” Garrison said of the key to the program’s current turnaround. “There will be good times and bad times and the bad times will feel like you are lower than the world. You just have to keep trucking, can never give up and I think that is really what the majority of us have done and it shows.

“I remember my freshman year, we were not this close and we did not see what we saw today,” Garrison added. “It just makes me proud of each and every one of these girls for how far we’ve come.”

Macks Creek actually took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning in what has become an annual Lake area battle between these two schools. However, Versailles answered quickly with a single run in the second to tie the game. The third inning left little doubt as the Tigers scored 15 runs to end it.

“I thought we were strong the first time we came to bat in the first and second inning. The defense was playing solid and we kind of ran into some issues defensively,” said Macks Creek coach Ryan Hedrick, who is in his first season leading the program. “If we cut down on those errors, I think the third inning would have looked completely different out there.”

Versailles juniors Maris Ollison and Joscelynn Marriott led the Tigers with two hits each along with sophomore Kierra O’Rourke. Sophomore Taylor Bice and freshman Kourtney Rainey also had a hit and both Ollison and Rainey led the way with a pair of RBIs each. Garrison, O’Rourke, Bice, senior Ana Pence, freshman Ashlynn Davidson and Marriott also finished with an RBI each in the offensive frenzy.

“I love it for these seniors because we started out a little slow, but they are the ones that sparked us and got us going. That third inning was a nice one for us and that is the type of softball we are capable of playing,” Versailles coach Jason Ollison stated. “I’m just glad we were able to do it tonight.”

Meanwhile, Marriott got the start in the circle and allowed just three hits and a single earned run with three strikeouts and no walks.

“She is our workhorse and go-to,” Ollison said of the junior hurler. “She keeps us in games and tonight she was able to get some strikeouts and we did not have to make every out in the field, which is really good.”

Macks Creek junior Molly Phillips, sophomore Ciera Compton, junior Sydney Rector and senior Kenzie Hicks had a hit each for the Pirates. Phillips got the start in the circle and pitched 2 2/3 innings allowing 16 runs, four earned, on six hits while walking nine batters. The Macks Creek defense also had five errors on the evening.

“Pitching is one of our main struggles right now and getting the bottom half of the lineup to hit and get to base so the top half can drive them in whenever needed,” Hedrick said. “Those two aspects right now are going to be our biggest struggle and what we need to start working on in every day events.”

Macks Creek (0-4) visits Springfield Central on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

For Garrison, Pence and senior Savanah Zambrana, the Senior Night game could not have gone much better and Ollison did not hesitate to tout their dedication and efforts in leading this program.

“When they were freshman this was not quite where it is right now. They were struggling to win games and really had a hard time,” he noted. “They’ve been through a lot and it is just good for them to be on the other end of it before they graduate. To be able to see that hard work does pay off.”

Versailles will start Tri-County Conference play at Osage on Thursday at 5 p.m. From coaching basketball and baseball as well, Ollison knows how tough this conference can be.

“There are six or seven teams in this conference that, if they get hot, can win this thing,” he said. “It is going to be a battle and always is... These girls set a goal when we started and wanted to win more conference games than they lost. Thursday night is going to be a big part of that.”