LEADWOOD – The MAAA tournament is arguably the most anticipated portion of the spring schedule for a West County softball team that played its state sanctioned district playoffs in the fall.
The Lady Bulldogs are competing with urgency as the end of their season approaches, as displayed by a massive victory over the current top-ranked team in the state on Tuesday.
Senior Ivy Meinershagen limited a daunting lineup to six hits, and overcame a shaky stretch of the sixth inning to help West County complete a 4-2 semifinal upset on its home field.
Haylee Watson, Hannah Myers and Meinershagen each produced two hits, and the fourth-seeded Lady Bulldogs (10-5) advanced to face third-seeded Central for the title on Wednesday.
Potosi (14-1) entered the game averaging about 10 runs per game, but was blanked through five innings while Meinershagen compiled five strikeouts overall.
Catcher Hannah Jarvis broke the shutout bid with a two-run homer that carried beyond the left-center fence after Emma Eaton lined a two-out single in the sixth.
Meinershagen may have been slightly rattled, issuing back-to-back ensuing walks, but retired Chelsea Charboneau on a ground ball to third baseman Megan Perkins.
The Lady Trojans could not threaten in the bottom of the seventh as Meinershagen quickly plowed through the top of the order to seal the historic win.
The action began with immediate controversy for West County. Myers was called out for being out of the batter’s box on a ground ball that would have otherwise resulted in an infield hit.
Head coach C.J. Wright argued to no avail, and Potosi pitcher Sydney Litton went on to navigate two perfect innings. Litton was helped by excellent catches from Kennedy Coleman at shortstop and Charboneau in deep left field on scorched line drives.
Perkins sparked the initial scoring rally for West County in the third with a single before moving to second on a passed ball. Myers followed with an RBI single that caromed off Litton.
Meinershagen kept the inning moving with a two-out single that was misplayed in left field, enabling Myers to score easily from first base.
The 2-0 margin remained until the sixth. The Lady Bulldogs added to their lead at crucial time, getting a leadoff double from Meinershagen along the way.
Jenna Simily ripped a sharp grounder that was deflected and slowed down by the third baseman for an RBI single. Watson then capped her 2-for-3 effort with a single that made it 4-0.
Litton allowed one earned run on three hits over three innings while taking the loss. Sami Huck threw then next four frames, yielding two runs on six hits while fanning four.
The Lady Trojans failed to capitalize after Huck doubled and Jaci Short singled with one out in the bottom of the first.
Potosi will regroup for a third-place game against Ste. Genevieve before preparing for upcoming district play. Its status atop the state poll is likely in jeopardy.
Central 16, Ste. Genevieve 3
LEADWOOD – Central avenged its conference loss from the regular season to Ste. Genevieve with authority by cranking out 17 hits during and MAAA Tournament rematch.
Leadoff batter Aubree Eaton scored four times while reaching base five straight times on two singles, two errors and a walk, and the third-seeded Lady Rebels secured a 16-3 semifinal win.
Taylor Marler finished 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI, and Central stole bases at seemingly every opportunity to reach a championship pairing against West County.
Two Ste. Genevieve miscues factored into three unearned runs during the first inning. Jessica Hulsey, Allie Kelly and McDowell each collected RBI singles.
Julia Koetting highlighted the Dragons with a pair of solo home runs against starter Chloe Coppedge, who otherwise kept most opposing hitters in check.
Koetting hammered her first drive to deep left while leading off the top of the second, but the Lady Rebels answered when Abbie Mendenhall belted a solo shot in the home half.
Eaton was hit by a pitch, stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on Hulsey’s ground out to create a 5-1 advantage for Central (15-5).
Coppedge allowed just three runs on 10 hits over six innings in a winning performance that featured no walks and two strikeouts. Marler tossed a scoreless seventh.
Alyssa Huber persevered through a tough outing in the circle, going the distance despite the lopsided result. She struck out three and walked one on an unofficial total of 154 pitches in defeat.
Three straight singles from Lexi Bova, Morgan Schwent and Sydney Oehlert sparked a potential rally in the fourth for Ste. Genevieve (12-5).
But the Dragons ran themselves into a double play on the third hit as Bova scored. Alert throws from catcher Millie McDowell and third baseman Maddie Manion cut down both trailing runners.
Second baseman Abby Holmes was briefly shaken up after the slide by Oehlert caught her in the face while applying the tag. But she was able to remain in the game.
Manion singled and scored on a Marler ground ball to restore a 6-2 advantage in the fifth. Central then poured on five runs in each of the last two frames.
Becca Voyles beat out the first of three consecutive productive bunts to being the sixth. Hulsey and Coppedge added RBI singles ahead of a Marler double.
The Lady Rebels sent 10 to the dish in the sixth. Mendenhall punctuated her 2-for-3 game with an RBI single, and Manion notched her second hit with a two-run double.
Koetting was 3-for-4 overall after sending her second home run over the wall in straight-away center.
Oehlert, Bova and Huber added two hits apiece for Ste. Genevieve. Izzy Basler, Brittney Kreitler and Schwent contributed singles.
Central has won nine games in a row.