Lincoln Softball Lady Cardinals Wins State Championship

Johnie J. Logue
Enterprise Staff
Saturday, May 18, 2019, will go down in Lincoln history as the day the Lady Cardinal softball team won the first state championship ever in any sport in school history, as they defeated Kennett 8-3 in eight innings at Killian Sports Complex in Springfield MO.
Although, Lincoln was ranked first on some polls, they were considered by some as the underdog as they had the smallest enrollment of the four final four teams. Kennett and Mt Vernon have enrollments of over 350 students and Potosi is at 487. Compare that to Lincoln at 107 and you can see why people would conjure up that notion.
However, anyone who had watched the 26-2 team play this season knew better.
Lincoln Head Coach Chris Sanders said, “ I knew at the beginning of the season that we could reach the final four.”
Junior catcher Haley Mackey commented, “I knew after we beat Adrian and Skyline  that we could win this.”
Junior Chloe Reese understood the underdog concept, “Coming into the tournament as the underdogs and winning the whole thing means everything. It shows how much work we have put in this year and how much fight this team has. After coming up short two years ago getting third, it is such a blessing to bring the trophy back to our school and our community.”
Aleah Paxton, their ace pitcher  said, “I knew we had this in us. I knew we were a good team. I told my girls before we played that there was nothing to lose here. We know we are good enough, let’s do it.
Like most great teams, this started years ago. Most of the girls played Summer ball with the Sun Devils. Mackey commented, “I have been catching Aleah Paxton since I was 13 so I know her stuff very well.” Coach Sanders said, Mackey calls the pitches. “I trust her and Aleah with that part of the game.”
However, nothing about their two days in Springfield was easy. After beating Potosi 2-1 in eight innings on Friday, they fought the wind on Saturday and as soon as the game was over the rains came.
Senior Centerfielder Lyndsey Koll made the killer defensive play of the game in the eighth. She caught a hard hit fly ball and then caught the runner on second leaving too soon with a strong throw to shortstop Jenna Vandaveer for a double play. “That was the biggest play of my career. The wind is something you just have to fight through.”
The game didn’t start off well for the Lady Cardinals. Cadyn Paxton would walk and steal second. Then Mackey with two outs would rip a single to center field. Paxton rounded third and went back when a strong throw came in. That left Mackey dead in the water between first and second for the inning ending out.
Then, in the second, Jordan Young would pinch run for Aleah Paxton, who singled and was thrown out trying to steal second. She re-injured her knee and hobbled off the field. The game started to have that feel to it that wasn’t good. However, Sanders was never worried. “I thought I would throw up on Friday but  today I wasn’t worried even when we got behind. I felt we came out a little tight but the girls worked through it.”
The Lady Cardinals then would catch a break in Kennett’s second inning. Audrey Phillips apparently scored on a sacrifice fly from third, but left the bag too soon and Aleah tossed the ball to her little sister Cadyn for the appeal at third for the inning ending out.
Kennett would score one in the fourth and one in the fifth for the 2-0 lead. However, Lincoln would take the lead with three in the fifth. Mackey would walk and go to second on a wild pitch. With two outs Reese would get one of the biggest hits in her career with a double to left and Mackey would score. Then the tiny Alexis Harms would reach first as the Kennett first baseman man bobbled the ball. Reese went to third. Then probably the best ninth hitter in the tournament would rip a line drive to right scoring Reese and sending the speedy Harms to third. Cadyn Paxton would reach on an another error by the first baseman and Harms would score the go ahead run. Vandaveer would rip a line drive to the shortstop for the third out.
Kennett wasn’t about to quit as they would score and tie the game at 3-3 on a single by the first baseman Nelson to redeem her two errors. The game ended in regulation after seven tied at three.
After Harms struck out, Genesis Smith would hit a line shot to right that the right fielder came in on and the ball sailed over her head for a triple. The line drive machine Cadyn Paxton, would double on a well hit ball to right center scoring Smith. Then the seams came off for Kennett as Paxton would double, Mackey would triple and scored on a wild pitch. It was 8-3 and the Lincoln fans could taste victory. After the double play by Koll, Vandaveer would tag out a runner going to third to end the game.
Aleah Paxton said, “I can’t think of a better way to end my season and my high school softball career. This was my last high school game ever and one of  my last games with my baby sister. I wouldn’t have wanted it to go out any other way.”