Oakville girls represent south county with class
October 26, 2005 - Here's a tip of the cap to the young women of the Oakville Senior High School softball team, their coaches and families.
|By BILL MILLIGAN|
They finished their season second in Missouri last week and conducted themselves in ways that could make us all proud to live here.
I say that because it wasn't easy. I say that because they entered the championship game a distinct underdog. If they were going to win, they had to beat Jefferson City Helias pitcher Lauren Delaney.
She was 23-0 this season and un-beaten in her high school career.
But the Tigers had overcome good pitching before. On Friday night they beat Lafayette's Erin DeStefano, who on Sept. 8 handed them one of their seven losses this season.
The Tigers fielded seven strong seniors, and anyone who wanted to label them underdogs would have to prove it on the field.
But the championship game was played on anything but a level playing field thanks to the way the Mis-souri State High School Activities Association approaches champion-ship tournaments.
Nearly every hotel and motel room in Columbia was occupied last weekend, but not because so many people were attending the softball championships. The majority came from Ne-braska, suffering a peculiar form of insanity that made them want to watch a college football game.
After the Tigers qualified for the state championship Friday night, they retired to a motel where no matter what they did, they could not escape the circus that rode in on the coattails of the Nebraska college football fans. At my hotel it was a cacophony of slamming doors, slurred speech, college cheers like "go Huskers'' and swear words that lasted from the time I returned from the softball semifinals until about 4 a.m.
Our softball team enjoyed the same horror movie in a motel across town.
But Helias players slept in their own beds that night. They ate breakfast at their leisure and drove to the game that morning along with nearly 500 fans.
None of the umpires were from St. Louis and they all seemed concerned about some strange and never-be-fore-heard-of rules, but Helias out-scored the Oakville team 5-1 so the officiating was not exactly a factor.
The Tigers may have been second at state, but considering all the extras they had to deal with, they'll always be No. 1 in our hearts.