Park Hill had some decent showings over the years at the Greater Kansas City Softball Invitational, but none were as good as this past weekend.
The Trojans went 5-0, marching to the Gold Bracket championship on Saturday, Aug. 31 with a 5-2 win against Raymore-Peculiar.
That was the first win for coach Jackie Qualls against Ray-Pec, last year’s third-place finisher in Class 4 and a fellow conference member of the Suburban Conference Gold Division.
“It is a huge stepping stone for the girls to understand what to look forward to,” Qualls said. “To play some of the better teams in Kansas City and take a win like this is pretty exciting for them and for me.”
Park Hill dispatched Class 4 playoff qualifier Truman in the semifinals and beat Kearney earlier in the day at Adair Park in Independence.
The Trojans’ five wins is the same number of wins the 2015 and 2016 teams had combined and half as many as the 2017 version. Park Hill appears on pace to better last year’s 12-win total and are on track for the first winning season since 2011.
“The girls played unbelievable ball and did an excellent job at the plate,” said Qualls, whose team scored 50 runs and allowed only four runs in the five games. “We had great pitching, great hitting … very timely hitting and really solid defense.”
Park Hill 5, Ray-Pec 2
The Trojans scored three times in the first inning and expanded the lead to 4-0 in the championship game.
Three straight singles, the last by Shelby Sanders, made it 1-0 before Sam Bertoncino delivered a two-out, two-run single. Ray-Pec loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first but Kaylyn Jones got a pop fly and two strikeouts to end the scoring threat.
An error by Ray-Pec allowed Park Hill to make it 4-0 in the top of the fourth.
Grace Woods had an RBI single in the sixth for Park Hill, a run sandwiched between single tallies by the Panthers in the fifth and seventh.
Ray-Pec had the bases loaded and down by three in the bottom of the seventh, but Jones got two strikeouts and a grounder to secure the win.
She struck out 11 and gave up nine hits and two runs over seven innings of work.
Kali Day had a pair of hits, while seven of the nine in the starting lineup had at least one hit for the Trojans.
Park Hill 10, Truman 0
The Trojans had only six hits in the victory but pieced together enough quality at-bats to score at least one run in five of the seven innings against the Patriots.
The big blow was a four-run first inning that featured three runs scoring on passed balls and another coming on Grace Woods’ bases-loaded walk.
Woods doubled home a run in the third inning, while Kennedy Townsend had a two-run double in the sixth inning. Leadoff hitter Miranda LaMunyon provided a two-run single in the final inning.
Jones tossed a two-hit shutout and fanned 11 in the victory.
Park Hill 7, Kearney 0
Kali Day drove in three runs and Shelby Sanders tossed a three-hit shutout in the opening game on Saturday.
Park Hill scored five times in the fifth to set the stage to beat the Bulldogs.
The decisive inning turned a 2-0 lead into the final score, starting with an RBI single by Kennedy Townsend. Shelby Sanders followed with an RBI single and Kali Day hit a three-run homer.
Sanders struck out four to pick up her second win in as many days.
Park Hill 9, Oak Grove 0
Kennedy Townsend drove in four runs and Kaylyn Jones threw a 1-hitter as the Trojans topped Oak Grove in the second game of the tournament.
Kennedy, a sophomore, hit a three-run home run to center field in the first inning, bringing home Miranda LaMunyon and Chloe Strickland, who opened with back-to-back walks.
Grace Woods and Kaydence Small, the No. 7 and 9 hitters, respectively, had RBI doubles in the third inning. A four-run sixth accounted for the final runs against the Panthers, all coming on consecutive hits. Strickland tripled home a run, followed by a double by Townsend, a single by Shelby Sanders and Kali Day doubled.
Jones struck out 12 and gave up a single in the second inning.
Park Hill 19, Raytown South 2
In the opening game of the tournament, a 16-run first inning set the stage for a three-inning win on Friday, Aug. 30.
The first 10 batters reached safely for Park Hill and did so with a seven walks and three batters getting hit by a pitch. The only RBI hits came from Grace Woods (two-run single) and Miranda LaMunyon (two-run double). The Cardinals ended up walking nine batters and LaMunyon came to the plate three times in the frame.
Kali Day had a two-run triple in the second, which made it 19-0 heading into the final inning.
Shelby Sanders started and gave up two runs on two hits, while fanning four for Park Hill.