SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Potosi softball team nearly overcame another ragged offensive start on Friday night when freshman pitcher Sami Huck ripped a saving RBI double down the left-field line.
Kylee Price easily scored on the clutch swing with the Lady Trojans down to their final out of the seventh inning, but they also missed a premium chance to push the game-winner across.
Lincoln answered with a go-ahead tally in the eighth, and survived yet another dramatic sequence to edge top-ranked Potosi 2-1 in the state semifinal round at Killian Softball Complex.
Aleah Paxton allowed three hits plus five walks, and struck out three for the win. The Cardinals (25-2) backed their senior pitcher with a number of timely defensive gems.
Potosi remained hitless through 4 1/3 innings, and trailed 1-0 before finally threatening in the fifth. Price reached safely on a one-out error, and moved to third on a ringing double by Catie Mosier.
Paxton induced a crucial infield fly for the second out, and second baseman Alexis Harms saved two runs with a tumbling catch while drifting back along the edge of the outfield grass.
The Lady Trojans (20-2) stranded two more after a single by Emma Eaton extended the bottom of the sixth, but eventually pulled even under intense pressure one frame later.
Huck, whose tremendous performance in the circle kept her club within close striking distance, made it 1-1 after Paxton issued walks to Price leading off and Kennedy Coleman on four pitches.
Coleman was forced to stop at third behind Price after some hesitation on the base paths, and Jaci Short flied out to left fielder Genesis Smith as the game required extra innings.
Jenna Vandeveer bunted for a single in the top of the eighth, then used her speed and improvisation to steal second and take third on a return throw to the base behind her after rounding too far.
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A subsequent passed ball enabled Vandeveer to score uncontested, and only a superb defensive stop by Coleman on a tricky bounce up the middle kept the margin at one.
Paxton issued two more walks in the home half of the eighth, but escaped triumphant when a solid line drive from Mosier found the glove of Smith, who held on tight while kneeling to the surface.
Huck compiled 14 strikeouts and scattered seven hits while going the distance in a hard-luck loss. She fanned eight spanning the second and fourth innings.
Lincoln grabbed a 1-0 advantage when catcher Haley Mackey singled and scored on Paxton’s RBI double into the left-field corner.
Mackey blocked a dangerous pitch in the bottom of the seventh that could have skipped to the backstop and possibly sent Potosi to the state final in its first softball postseason appearance.
Coleman drew a walk to begin the bottom of the first, but never moved up from first base. Short was robbed of extra bases on a diving catch from right fielder Chloe Reese in the fourth.
Both Price and right fielder Kaitlyn Hays were competing about three hours from home while fellow Potosi seniors attended graduation ceremonies.
The Lady Trojans will attempt to salvage third place on Saturday morning against Mt. Vernon.
Caden Paxton went 2-for-4 to pace Lincoln, which faces Kennett for the championship.