Oakville High softball team experiences joy of victory, agony of defeat at state
October 26, 2005 - After experiencing the joy of a come-from-behind victory in the state semifinal game Friday, the Oakville Senior High School softball team's hopes for a state championship were dashed Saturday by Jef-ferson City Helias.
| Oakville senior Ally Stanton, right, throws to first from her shortstop position during the state championship game.|
The Tigers last season advanced to the state semifinal game where they dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Jefferson City en route to a third-place finish in the state tournament. On Friday, the Tigers made it past the state semifinal game as they came back from a 3-0 deficit in the sixth inning to beat Lafayette 4-3 in Columbia.
"No matter how many runs we were down, we refused to quit," Oakville head coach Rich Sturm told the Call. "The atmosphere was something that I'll never forget."
The win was a significant accomplishment for the Tigers because they had not defeated Lafayette since Sept. 23, 2003, when they handed the Lancers a 3-0 setback.
The Tigers also entered uncharted waters when they played in the state championship game for the first time in Oakville history. The school previously had played in the state semifinal game in 2001 and 2004.
But in the state championship game, the Tigers fell to Jefferson City's Helias High School as they faced one of the best pitchers in the history of Missouri high school softball, Lauren Delaney. Oakville fell behind and managed one run and two hits as they dropped a 5-1 decision to Helias.
Despite the loss, Sturm had nothing but praise for his players and what they've accomplished over the past couple of seasons in making Oakville one of the best programs in the state.
"I was just elated for my girls in what we went through last year," Sturm said. "At this point in time, this is the most accomplished softball team at Oakville."
Oakville's lone run of the game came in the second inning when starting senior catcher Nicole Jost got on base with a single. Jost advanced to second base via a sacrifice by senior third baseman Lindsay DeGonia. Jost scored on a shot to left center field by sophomore second baseman Courtney Kennedy.
Kennedy finished the afternoon with a 1-2 performance at the plate with one run batted in. That one run was the second earned run scored off of Delaney in the 2005 season.
"Courtney's really come on in the second half of the season," Sturm said. "She's going to be a major part of our future next year."
Jost was 1-3 at the plate with one run scored.
"She (Jost) actually made contact on Delaney three times," Sturm said. "Nicole caught an excellent game for us in the state tournament."
Oakville starting pitcher Alyssa Kernen gave up five runs on 10 hits in six innings pitched. The senior ace walked three and retired six via strikeout as she finished her high school career with a 62-16 record.
"Alyssa won 62 games in four years," Sturm said. "She's going to go down as the most successful pitcher in Oakville softball history."
Kernen was relieved in the seventh inning by senior teammate Kara Wheeler in a moment that drew an ovation from the crowd. Wheeler's one inning of relief yielded just two hits in her final appearance as an Oakville Tiger.
"Kara was a four-year varsity starter for us, and I wanted her to be able to enjoy this moment," Sturm said. "I gave her an opportunity to pitch in a state championship game because it was something I felt deep down that she deserved."
The Tigers have seven seniors on this season's roster: Lisa Kraus, Ally Stanton, Jackie Westhus, Wheeler, DeGonia, Jost and Kernen.