Meeting of old rivals

syeagle@demo-mo.comOctober 18, 2013 

Harrisonville figured they would meet up with old rivals Pleasant Hill in the Class 3, District 13 championship game.

The Wildcats, seeded No. 2, weren’t the favorites to bring home the crown against No. 1 seeded Pleasant Hill Oct. 11 at Warrensburg.

But Harrisonville proved they could, slipping past the Chicks 2-0.

“Playing Pleasant Hill in the district championship game was one of those things we kind of figured would happen,” Harrisonville head coach Dave Hix said. “Our girls were ready physically and mentally. I think beating them at our place two weeks ago really got the girls in a positive mindset that they could do it again.”

The Wildcats scored their first run in the top of the second, as Hannah Bennett singled to center field, followed by a single from Taylor Jones to right field. Jocelyn Winter was hit by a pitch from Pleasant Hill’s Courtney Fountain to load the bases.

With one out, Madi Kittilstad reached first on a fielder’s choice to third base, but Bennett was forced out at home plate. Then Baylee Goss singled on an error by Pleasant Hill to send Miranda Ferguson (the courtesy runner for Jones) home.

Harrisonville scored again in the top of the third inning starting with a single to left field by Reagan Osborn. Leeann Farren’s fly ball to center field was caught, but Bennett singled to right field next. Jones grounded out on her hit, but not before Osborn scored to put the Wildcats ahead 2-0.

“We always challenge our girls that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Hix said. “We have had some good games with Pleasant Hill in districts over the years and this game just adds to that rivalry legacy. They are well coached and never quit coming at you.”

The rivaling teams, both in the Missouri River Valley West Conference, had played twice earlier in the season, with the Chicks grabbing one victory, while the Wildcats earned another.

“We had split with them earlier in the season, but none of that matters at this point in the season,” Pleasant Hill head coach Lisa Dowdy said. “We came out a bit flat, but never gave up. We missed a few signs, stayed strong defensively, but just couldn’t get our bats going. We just couldn’t lay off the high pitch. Sometimes that is the way it goes. That is not the way we wanted to end our season.”

Harrisonville was led on the mound by Jones with seven innings, allowing eight hits and striking out three batters.

Bennett had three hits and Goss had two hits. Osborn had two hits and one run, Jones had one hit and Ferguson had one run.

Pleasant Hill’s Fountain pitched for seven innings, allowing eight hits, two runs, one earned, two walks and had one strikeout.

Mackenzie Snyder, Olivia Hessling and Fountain all had two hits. Hessling’s two hits were both doubles. Paige Shifflett and Madison Stockstill both had one hit.

“We played one of the best games we have played all year defensively and we have been doing that for the last month,” Hix said. “We just played with a lot of confidence and faith in each other. Offensively, we just kept battling and getting quality at bats and putting pressure on their defense.”

The district trophy is Harrisonville’s first in four years. The Wildcats, 17-6, hosted Odessa in the Class 3 sectionals Oct. 16. A victory will put Harrisonville in the quarterfinals Saturday, Oct. 19 against the winner of the Cameron and Smithville sectional game.

“We set some goals at the beginning of the year and the girls said they wanted to beat Pleasant Hill who we have not beat in about four years, win a district title and be a state champion,” Hix said. “We have accomplished two of the three plus winning a conference co-championship with Pleasant Hill which was not one of our written goals.”

To get to the championship game, both teams had to go through semifinals Oct. 10. Pleasant Hill ran past Holden 13-1 and Harrisonville defeated Clinton 5-2.

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