Eureka reaches Final Four in Class 4 state softball for second consecutive year
By: Warren Mayes
All year long, the mission for the Eureka Wildcats was to get back to the Class 4 softball Final Four and improve.
Last fall, the Wildcats went to Springfield and left in fourth place. Coach Mark Mosley said Eureka had unfinished business and wanted to return.
The Wildcats have done that.
Eureka (20-1) meets Truman (29-3) at 2 p.m. Friday (Oct. 19). In the other semifinal, Francis Howell (20-8) plays Ozark (26-6). The two winners meets for the state title at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We are very excited for the trip, and Springfield is where we felt we would and should be,” Mosley said. “We had the expectation of coming back here at the end of last season, but we knew it’d be a difficult road and we’d have to knock off some good teams and win some tough games. Being one of the final teams playing in the state is always a neat feeling.”
The Wildcats had 12 lettermen and eight starters bac this season. The goal all along was to reach postseason and get back to Springfield to play at state. Easily said but tough to do. Everyone wants to get to state and no one steps aside and gives a free ride.
Eureka earned their trip. Mosley said he believed in his girls.
“I think setting the goal was a lofty expectation, but I had confidence these girls could meet it,” Mosley said. “They work incredibly hard when we practice, and they stay positive with each other. To me, it’s a testament to the character of these girls and their work ethic. I get to work with a very unique group of girls, and I feel very blessed to be able to do so. This group deserves all the success they’ve had to this point, and I really hope more comes their way.”
The experience factor should help the Wildcats this time, Mosley said.
“Of our 14 girls, 12 of them were on the team from last year. They are happy to be going back,” Mosley said. “They’ve been thinking about this weekend for a year now. These girls talked to me about it when we began workouts in July. I think the experience from last year will benefit us as a program, not just the girls. We all learned some things down there. But our semifinal game is against a team that has the same experience, so it will still come down to who plays better on Friday.”
The Wildcats advanced to state with a 9-0 victory over visiting Northwest in a quarterfinal. Pitcher Maddie Krumrey was solid in her start. Krumrey, who is undefeated this season at 13-0 with an amazing earned run average of 0.18, allowed two hits and a walk while hitting a batter in the win.
Now, Eureka meets a team from Kansas City.
“We play Truman, a team we’ve never faced. It’s impossible to be a softball coach and not know who pitches (junior left-hander Paige Parker) for Truman, Mosley said. “We got a tough draw last year having to play Troy (eventual state champions) first, and we have a tough draw this year having to go against Truman first. We will have our hands full, but I am confident we can make some things happen in the game. It will be a great game for those in attendance.”
There is no chance Eureka will look past Truman, Mosley said.
“This group never looks past the game at hand. It’d be foolish to do so, and especially when the game at hand is against such a good team,” Mosley said. “We are focusing a lot on our hitting approach, and at this point in the season, it’s just about getting reps both offensively and defensively, and staying sharp. When you get to this point, girls and coaches don’t want to practice. We want to play.”
The keys to victory will be to take advantage of any mistakes made by their pitcher or defense, Mosley said.
“We have to be able to react to what Parker does in the circle against us and put some good swings on the ball,” Mosley said. “And as usual, our defense has to do their job and make Truman earn everything.”
Mosley likes the fact he has Krumrey going for Eureka in the matchup.
“There’s not a pitcher other than Maddie Krumrey in the state that I would rather have in the circle for my team,” Mosley said. “I believe in her 100 percent, and so does this team. She is a great pitcher, leader, and kid. I trust her to execute the game plans I give her, and she always stays positive and keeps the same demeanor. I’d put her in the same class as any pitcher around.”