POTOSI – Leadoff hitter Kennedy Coleman is generally tasked with getting aboard to facilitate action for the heart of the Potosi softball batting order.
But the sophomore shortstop handled much of the heavy lifting herself on Monday as the Lady Trojans made their program debut in the state playoffs.
Coleman homered on the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning, and was 3-for-4 with two doubles and six massive RBI to highlight an 11-1 sectional triumph over Winona.
“Every time before a game, we tell ourselves to stay humble, don’t take anything too seriously and just play ball,” Coleman said. “We were all a little bit nervous, but once we stepped on the field, we started relaxing and knew we could do some big things today.”
Emma Eaton crushed a tiebreaking home run to left-center in the fourth to clearly revitalize a subdued Potosi offense. An astounding awakening was just beginning to unfold.
Nine consecutive batters reached base safely with two outs, and a once fragile situation was suddenly under full control as seven Lady Trojans came around to touch the plate.
Top-ranked Potosi (19-1) produced at least nine runs for the 17th game this spring, and will travel more than three hours west to Pleasant Hope (25-3) on Thursday with a final four berth at stake.
“I think that almost every time somebody has scored on us, we have scored at least one run the next inning to keep us in the game or keep momentum going our way,” Potosi head coach Tyler Beers said. “It’s a testament to our girls. They don’t get bothered by a lot of things, stay pretty true to themselves and string good at-bats together when we need them.”
Sydney Litton registered six strikeouts over four strong innings from the circle. She allowed just two hits and no walks while earning the win.
Coleman handed her an instant lead with a bullet over the left-field fence, but Winona hurler Lyndsey Rightnowar retired 10 of 11 batters after Sami Huck lined an ensuing double.
Litton worked around a single by Shanleigh Smith by inducing a double play in the third inning. Coleman earlier threw out a batter after fielding a redirected roller near second base.
The Wildcats pulled even in the fourth on a ground out by catcher Cheyanne Wallace after Rightnowar burned the right fielder for a leadoff triple.
Winona (11-11) emerged with a district title on Saturday after Bismarck stranded 18 runners. Despite the quick turnaround and winding road trip to Potosi, its upset hopes were alive and well.
“We’ve been getting off to a slow start for the last couple of games,” Beers said. “I’ve been staying on [the girls] to make sure they stay locked in at the plate. We can’t have those slow starts moving forward, because the teams get better with each round we go.”
Eaton spurred the Lady Trojans by going deep, and Hannah Jarvis notched the first of her two singles ahead of three consecutive walks to Kylee Price, Catie Mosier and Chelsea Charboneau.
Coleman extended the margin to 6-1 as the next batter with a bases-clearing double before advancing to third base as the incoming throw sailed to the backstop.
“We were not hitting as well as we should,” Coleman said. “We were all thinking [In the fourth inning] that we should be going up there trying to drive the ball, and not worry about home runs. That’s when we started line-driving it.”
Huck continued the carousel with an RBI triple to center – her second extra-base hit of the game – and Jaci Short singled her home for an 8-1 advantage.
Coleman capped her big performance with a looping two-run double to shallow left, and rounded third with speed to invoke the run rule on a two-out throwing error in the fifth.
Huck pitched a perfect top half with three strikeouts in a relief role. She would start the quarterfinal game if the recent rotation pattern holds firm.
Litton provided a double to assist her own cause, and Charboneau singled for Potosi before Wallace caught her stealing.
Rightnowar allowed 11 hits and struck out two in the loss.