Lauren Massey had pitched nearly every inning of every game this season for Lawrence High’s softball team — which meant that, despite her best efforts, she also had been saddled with a loss in each of those games.
Nine tries. Zero wins.
“I don’t want to say it was frustrating,” Massey said. “I just go out there and pitch my hardest and do my part. I know my team will back me up.”
After a discouraging first half of the season, Massey’s confidence was rewarded Tuesday evening when she tossed a complete-game shutout, and her previously winless Lions picked up an 8-0 victory against Shawnee Mission South in Game Two of a three-team doubleheader at Holcom Complex. In Game One, Lawrence fell, 6-0, against Shawnee Mission Northwest.
But nobody had any intent on talking about that outcome after the way the Lions played in the nightcap.
“This is the feeling that I’ve wanted the girls to have all year, and it’s finally good that they have that taste of what winning is,” LHS coach Reenie Stogsdill said.
The victory against the Raiders (4-7) provided a boost for several reasons. It comes in the final tune-up before Lawrence takes on cross-town rival Free State High in a doubleheader on Thursday at Holcom Complex. It also halted a string of five consecutive contests in which the Lions (1-9) failed to score. They were outscored, 44-0, during that span.
“I hope now that they understand what it’s like to win, they get that desire to win every time they go out,” Stogsdill said.
The Lions’ key inning on Tuesday began innocently enough with a bunt single from LHS left fielder Kelsey Broadwell to lead off the first.
It ended when catcher Kristen Bell slapped an RBI single to center field five batters later for a 3-0 lead. In between, the Lions received a single from second baseman Mallory Reynolds, a walk from shortstop Jamie Jarrett and a two-run single from Massey.
Afterward, the Lions were jumping for joy like they hadn’t done all season.
“Everyone got hyper,” Jarrett said. “Everyone’s just been really calm, not really getting into the game. After we pulled ahead, the second inning, everyone just got up.”
Massey, a sophomore, tossed all seven innings in Game Two, allowing no runs on four hits with two strikeouts. Massey did not allow a hit until a leadoff single in the top of the fourth inning.
“She moved the ball well,” Jarrett said. “She knows how to pitch, and she showed everyone tonight.”
Massey received outstanding defensive support throughout Game Two. That included a heads-up double play turned by Jarrett and Reynolds. In the fifth inning, Jarrett snared a line drive with runners on first and second, then doubled off a Raiders runner at second with a toss to Reynolds to end the threat.
“They’re amazing, Mal and Jamie,” Massey said. “They really just make a great dynamic duo there. They know exactly where the other person is going to be.”
Third baseman Lauren Byrn also made a nice stab at a ball in the fourth inning with two runners on, diving for the force out to beat a runner at third.
Jarrett finished Game Two 2-for-4 with a double, triple, two runs scored and two RBIs, while Massey drove in four runs.
“This is the kind of game we’ve been trying to get out of us,” Massey said. “Now that we know we can do it, there’s no reason why we can’t do it other times.”