PARK HILLS – Riley Kawelaske fouled off numerous pitches during an initial plate appearance that never reached a true resolution on Tuesday.
Although an attempted steal of home by the Lady Bulldogs backfired to end the top of the second inning, the West County first baseman relished two more opportunities to shine at the plate.
Kawelaske delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth, Gracie Wright was tremendous in the circle, and the Lady Bulldogs took down a higher seed in the MAAA Tournament for the second straight day.
Fifth-seeded West County committed no errors behind Wright, who twirled a one-hitter while striking out 11, and defeated top seed Valle Catholic 2-0 in the semifinals.
Grace Barton doubled and scored, Alexis Hedgcorth reached base twice and West County (6-8) advanced to face Central in the championship game that has been postponed until Thursday.
Valle Catholic (11-3) was tapped for the top line in the bracket, thanks in part to a massive extra-inning win over Potosi during a still incomplete conference regular season due to weather postponements.
But the Lady Warriors were largely handcuffed on Tuesday in a rematch by Wright, who retired 20 of 25 batters faced in perhaps her best pitching performance this season.
Abree Zipprich was also strong in defeat for Valle Catholic, allowing only one earned run on five hits and striking out four while likewise going the distance.
Barton sliced an opposite-field double in the fifth, and West County grabbed a 1-0 lead as Kawelaske followed with an RBI single through the middle.
Second baseman Macy Wolk caught an ensuing pop fly to double off Kawelaske moments later, and the momentum briefly shifted toward the Lady Warriors in the sixth.
After Ade Weiler was plunked by an inside pitch, Zipprich singled through the left side to break up the no-hit prospects of Wright with two outs.
Wolk made solid contact with the potential tying and go-ahead runs aboard, but the Lady Bulldogs ultimately averted danger as left fielder Jacy Tongay made a running catch toward the line.
Wright, who fanned all three batters in the fifth inning, cruised through the seventh with two ground balls and a pop out all finding second baseman Alexis Hedgcorth.
Kawelaske helped West County pick up its second run when a two-out ground ball got past Wolk and enabled Hedgcorth to cross the plate during the top of the seventh.
Hedgcorth stood at third base following a single and stolen base in the second inning, but Zipprich was alert with the return throw on a delayed steal as catcher Nicole Gegg held on to the tag.
Valle Catholic put its leadoff batter on base in each of the first three frames, but Wright answered each instance with at least one timely strikeout.
Senior catcher Kaelin Hedgcorth erased a walk to Emily Flieg in the bottom of the second with a quick and accurate pickoff throw.
Wright issued another walk to McKenna Bauman in the third, resulting in a conversation with father and head coach C.J. Wright, then proceeded to retire her next 11 batters in dominant fashion.
Morgan Simily was correctly awarded a two-out double after interference was called while rounding first base in the sixth inning, and Reese Smith singled for the Lady Bulldogs.
West County entered the tournament on a five-game slide, but handled Ste. Genevieve rather easily in the opening round on Monday.
Center fielder Mia Weiler was perfect on four defensive chances for the Lady Warriors, who moved into the third-place game against Potosi.