Hummers too hot for Paola squad

Lawrence Hummers batter Dacia Sprow leans in to take a swing against the Paola Explosion during a game in the 18-under bracket at the American Fastpitch Assn. B National Tournament. The Hummers won, 5-1, Wednesday at Holcom Sports Complex in their first game in the tournament.

The only thing more miserable for the Paola Explosion than Wednesday’s sweltering heat was enduring the Lawrence Hummers.

In the Hummers’ first game in the 18-under bracket at the American Fastpitch Assn. “B” National Tournament, they were reacquainted with one of last year’s bitter rivals and brought home a 5-1 victory.

After rain delayed the tournament’s start, the Hummers again were forced to twiddle their thumbs as their 11 a.m. contest was forfeited after their opponent failed to show at Holcom Sports Complex. Once they finally got to swing the sticks, it was pretty much no contest.

“We would have rather had the warm-up game,” Hummers co-coach Barry Sprow said. “Last year, we played them four or five times, and every time we played them it was a tight game.”

The Hummers started the scoring in their first at-bat thanks to back-to-back singles by Chloe Hall and Livi Abney. Ashley Wagner followed with a chopper through the middle to drive in the game’s first run, and Ashley Vice made the biggest statement with an RBI double.

And while the Explosion sputtered defensively, the Hummers capitalized on fielding.

In the top of the second, with two Explosion runners and no outs, Hummers pitcher Kelly Spence gloved a lined shot and sharply spun toward first for the pivotal double play.

“They’ve always been real hard against us, but it was big to get up early,” Spence said. “I’ve pitched against them a couple of times, and they’ve rocked me. There were those double plays that helped out a lot.”

The fundamentals the Hummers displayed Thursday are a result of tutelege most of the girls have received since the age of seven or eight from former coach LuAnn Metsker, who is a local legend both as a player and coach. She retired as Hummers coach after last summer.

Sprow said the current coaching staff understood Metsker’s legacy and that they saw themselves as a cheer squad that offered suggestions.

“The girls run on their own, call their own pitches and call their own defenses,” Sprow said. “You can see (Metsker’s) game and the way she coached like she’s there.”