SPRINGFIELD – In their first trip back to the Class 3 Final Four since 2006, Harrisonville came home with a fourth-place trophy after two tough losses.
The Wildcats, 19-8, were shut out 3-0 by eventual state champions Centralia in the semifinals Oct. 25 at Killian Softball Complex, Springfield.
“Baylee Douglass (Centralia's pitcher) was up to the challenge,” Harrisonville head coach Dave Hix said. “We can't simulate in practice what she throws in a game so we were trying to make adjustments throughout the game to try and string some hits together. Unfortunately, we could not do it. We probably had a few nerves early but we settled down and played pretty well after the third inning. Just when we thought we had something going, she would shut us down.”
The Panthers scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and another in the second inning. Centralia just hung on from there to clinch the victory.
Abby Huston had two hits, including a triple, and Baylee Goss and Taylor Jones both had one hit.
Jones pitched all six innings, allowing four hits, three runs, two earned, one walk and had five strikeouts.
“Tip your hat to them, they did what they had to do to win,” Hix said. “We feel like our semi final game was truly the state championship game after what they did to Blair Oaks on Saturday winning 9-2.”
In the third-place match later that day against DeSoto, Harrisonville had an early 1-0 lead, but couldn’t hold on to it.
The Wildcats scored a run in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, Reagan Osborn hit a single and Leeann Farren tripled to center field to score Osborn.
DeSoto tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, then scored four more runs in the top of the seventh to take home the victory.
“We had a chance to blow the game open in the bottom of the sixth with bases loaded and no one out,” Hix said. “We had who wanted at the plate in Hannah Bennett and she hit a hard ground ball to third and she made a good stop and turned a 5-2-3 double play. We still had second and third with two out but couldn't get them in and that kind of took some wind out of our sails. We gave up four in the top of the seventh and couldn't overcome that much of a deficit.”
Osborn had two hits and one run and Farren had two hits, a triple and one RBI. Hannah Bennett also had one hit.
Jones pitched seven innings, allowing nine hits, five runs, one earned, one home run and struck out two batters.
“I have been to four final fours in three different sports and each one of those other teams looked special at the beginning of the year,” Hix said. “This team did not give me that impression until the middle of September. The way the girls gelled and became a family both on and off the field is amazing. We kind of snuck up on people this year but with only losing two seniors (Baylee Goss and Jocelyn Winter) expectations will be high and we aren't going to be able to do that next year.”