The 2017 Class 4 softball tournament did not go the way the Francis Howell Vikings would have liked. Not even close to that.
Still, for coach Jenn Beckmann-Brown’s 2017 club, the Vikings had a season that will be long remembered and cherished by the Francis Howell community.
Howell lost to Marquette 6-4 in the Class 4 semifinals and fell to Staley 12-1 in the third place last Friday at Killion Sports Complex in Springfield.
“We knew we had a special group of girls early this year and we knew that we had the ability to go to state and so for them to fulfill that goal and to reach that level is an honor to watch that as a coach,” Beckmann-Brown said.
In the semifinal game against Marquette, the Mustangs took the lead on a Kelsey Lenox homer off Howell starter Whitney Boschert in the top of the sixth to go up 1-0.
The Vikings answered in the bottom of the sixth thanks to the big bat of sophomore first baseman Sophia Davis. Davis answered Lenox’s homer with a three-run shot, pushing Howell ahead 3-1.
Marquette came roaring back in the top of the seventh, as Jenna Schatz kick started a five-run rally with a walk and the Mustangs held on to end the Vikings hopes of playing for the Class 4 title.
“The last three outs are the hardest to get and we got one of them and just couldn’t secure the other two,” Beckmann-Brown said.
That left the Vikings down and forced to regroup quickly and try to salvage some success in the third place game less than two hours later.
“So the way that the MSHSAA tournament is set up, they have the girls coming back to place the third place game in our situation basically an hour and a half our our girls played the semifinal game,” Beckmann-Brown said. “I had girls in tears (after that semifinal game) for a good amount of time. They had been working toward this goal and to watch it go away and to have to turn around and play another contest, I don’t think that’s very fair.”
The Vikings came out flat in the third place game and lost to Staley in five innings. Sophomore pitcher Kate Norton got the start and Junior Ally Wilson finished up in relief.
Although this state tournament appearance ended in disappointment for Francis Howell (24-11), the Vikings left Springfield feeling good about the program’s second trip to the Class 4 tournament and the first since 2012.
Howell will definitely viewed as an elite program in the next few seasons to come thanks to this state run.
“I think that it shows that we are now a prominent team now in the state of Missouri,” Beckmann-Brown said. “We were there in 2012 and we finished third and to get back so quickly within five years, there are a lot of programs that do that. I think it shows we take athletics seriously at Howell and that we want to build a program that is on that state level every year.”