By Ethan Colbert
The Bowling Green Lady Bobcats are headed to Springfield and one of four teams still in the state vying for the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s Class AA State Championship.
The Lady Bobcats defeated the Palmyra Lady Panthers during the regional round of the state playoffs to move into this weekend’s state tournament, which will be held at the Killian Complex in Springfield.
BGHS, who moved to 24-4 on the year, will take on Kelly High School (Benton, Mo.). The Kelly Lady Hawks have a 23-6 record this season.
The first pitch for the Bowling Green-Kelly game is set for 10 a.m. on Friday.
Should the Lady Bobcats win, they will face the winner of the Blair Oaks-Lathrop game, with a state title on the line. The state championship is set for Saturday at 10 a.m.
The third-place game will be played at 1 p.m. on Friday.
Recap of Bowling Green-Palmyra Game
Both teams were deadlocked headed into the sixth-inning when suddenly the Lady Bobcats exploded, hitting three home runs in the frame.
Hitting the home runs were: Mallory Feldewerth, Gabi Deters, and Kaylyn McKee. In an interview following the game,
Bowling Green High School Head Coach Dean Streed said once the Lady Bobcats had their “explosive sixth-inning” he began to countdown the outs that his team would need to record, in order to punch their ticket to the Final Four.
“I keep a clipboard for statistics and on it, I wrote six, five, four, three, two, and one,” Streed said. “I knew it was all about getting one out at a time. I never got the chance though to cross out the final out, because I threw the clipboard as soon as they called it.”
Streed said seeing his team celebrate together made him feel incredibly proud, humbled, and excited.
“It is a humbling experience, because I have been on the other side of that game,” Streed said. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Lady Bobcats had advanced to the Regional Round of the playoffs for three years but had failed to advance out of the Regional game.
“I know what it is like to not be the winner of that game,” Streed said. The head coach said he would forever relish the excitement he felt as he watched the team celebrate.
“I was excited for our upperclassmen, because we have all been through those games together,” Streed said. “We have been through that heartbreak. We have both shed a lot of tears over the (regional) game. It was nice to see a different kind of tears on Saturday.”
According to both players and the coaching staff, the tears were a mix of pure jubilation and relief.
“These girls know that they have done something that no one will ever take away from them,” Streed said in his interview.
Scouting Report For Springfield
While the Lady Bobcats and their fans are surely happy to see the team advance to the school’s first-ever state softball final four, the Lady Bobcats are keeping the focus on making the most of what could be a “once-in-a-lifetime weekend.”
“We are just going to take this experience one day at a time,” Streed said. The Bowling Green Head Coach scoffed at the idea that his team might be considered the underdogs by sports pundits.
“I hope that everyone thinks that Bowling Green is the underdog, because that will certainly play in our favor,” Streed said. According to some, the Lady Bobcats are the underdogs because they are competing against Kelly High School, who was last in the Final Four in 2013, when they finished fourth; Blair Oaks, who was last year’s runner-up to state champion Centralia; and Lathrop, who was the state’s champion in AA Softball in 2015.
Streed said he and his roster of athletes are not frazzled by the thought of Blair Oaks, Lathrop, or Kelly.
“Speaking on Kelly, when you go back to the first two years that we played Portageville in Regionals,” Streed said. “It was Portageville that knocked Kelly out of that tournament. Portageville had a really great pitcher and they shut them out. Hopefully, we will be the team with a really great pitcher and can do the same thing to them.”
Should the Lady Bobcats face Blair Oaks in either the Championship or Third-Place game, Streed is anticipating it to be another pitcher’s duel between the two school’s ace pitchers.
Should the Lady Bobcats face Lathrop High School in either the championship or the third-place game, Streed is anticipating it to be a battle of the bats.
Through it all, Streed said he believes that the senior leadership of Katy Horner, KateLynn Charlton, Anah Noble, Mallory Feldewerth, and Kaylyn McKee to carry them through the two remaining games of the year.
“We have a bunch of seniors who know how to live in the moment,” Streed said. “Just last week, we went down to the campus of SLU and played a game. We took the girls out of the country, so to speak, and they saw things that they don’t see in Bowling Green. But you know what, they still went down there on a mission and took care of business. We are going to have the same attitude towards this trip to Springfield.”
In his interview, Streed said he was “amazed” by how the community had reacted to the news of the softball team advancing to state.
“After the game, I went to a gas station for a soda and people just kept walking up to me and congratulating me,” Streed said. “I honestly don’t know if I can come up with the words that can describe how it made me feel.”
Since his arrival at BGHS several years ago, Streed said he has only heard about how well Bowling Green-area residents and school alumni travel to support their state-bound athletes.
“I didn’t get a chance to see the Edward Jones Dome, or Mizzou Arena,” Streed said. “I have only heard about it. I have only heard how special it is to see all of the people from Bowling Green High School at those games.”
Prior to the start of Friday’s game against Kelly High School, Streed said that he would be offering one last piece of advice to his Lady ‘Cats.
“Remember who we play for,” Streed said of his intended pre-game remarks. “We love playing for the school and the community that we represent. We play for the name across our chest, not for the names on our backs.”