BONNE TERRE – North County left too many promising scoring threats on the table during its regular-season softball finale on Tuesday.
Jackson outhit the Lady Raiders 9-5 overall, and produced a three-run rally in the top of the sixth inning to secure a 6-4 SEMO Conference win.
Ashlyn Prince finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and began the sixth inning with a solo home run to left-center after her club had trailed 4-2.
Miranda Ladson was 2-for-3 overall, and added a two-out, go-ahead RBI single through the left side after Morgan Conklin doubled off North County starter Kennedy Kohler.
The Lady Raiders celebrated their large senior class before the contest began, but their last scheduled home game met a frustrating conclusion.
Taizja Lawless was stranded following a leadoff hit in the bottom of the sixth, and Jackson hurler Karli Johnson worked around a one-out error in the seventh.
Johnson went the distance in a five-hitter, and struck out the side in the first inning while fanning seven for the game. Three of the runs scored against the right-hander were unearned.
Jackson (14-8, 5-2) denied North County (17-6, 6-2) an outright claim on second place in league play while enabling Notre Dame to clinch the title earlier than possibly anticipated.
The Lady Raiders rallied for three runs against Johnson in the fifth, beginning with back-to-back walks issued to pinch-hitter Zoey Cheek and Kohler.
Emma Becker and Kiersdan Davis reached safely on consecutive infield errors, resulting in a 3-2 lead, and Emma Keen grounded an RBI infield hit for a two-run cushion.
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Johnson responded with a huge strikeout and induced another ground ball to leave three on base.
Prince singled in the Jackson seventh to put runners at the corners. Davis, who relieved Kohler, almost navigated a bases-loaded situation by fielding a comebacker.
Miranda Carnell was called safe on a close play at first after the force out was recorded at home, and a skipped throw across the diamond from Cheyenne Dickens allowed Prince to cross the plate.
Kohler yielded five runs on eight hits and struck out one over six innings in defeat. She quickly trailed 2-0 after three of the first four Jackson batters collected hits.
Prince doubled home Alli Gartman, and Carnell singled to the fence before being thrown out at second base on a strong throw by Becker in center field. Kohler retired her next nine batters faced.
North County lost Lawless in a panicked rundown after she was one step away from reaching second on a third strike that bounced away.
Kohler ripped the next pitch of the third inning into the right-field corner, but was stranded following the two-out triple as a Dickens fly ball was caught near the fence.
Emilie Morgan helped the Lady Raiders break through with an RBI ground out in the fourth after Becker singled and Davis doubled to the left-center gap.
Lawless battled Johnson for 10 pitches later in the frame before fouling out to the catcher.
The Lady Raiders are idle until next week’s Class 3, District 1 tournament.