HILLSBORO, Mo. – For everything positive that the North County softball team accomplished with its bats on Wednesday, much of it was nullified by a shaky performance in the field.
Winning pitcher Tricia Charleville and catcher Kaitlynn Hannah picked up RBI ground outs in the eighth inning, and fifth-seeded De Soto prevailed 10-8 in a volatile Class 3, District 2 first-round game.
De Soto (14-11) overcame three separate three-run deficits, and advanced to face top seed Festus later in the night after turning five defensive errors by the Lady Raiders into six unearned runs.
Maizie Tyree homered with two outs in the fourth inning, and Kiersdan Davis added a leadoff blast in the fifth to restore a 7-4 advantage for North County (16-9) that soon evaporated.
Senior pitcher Michaela Mason induced a slow roller with two outs and two runners aboard in the sixth, but a low throw by Davis caromed into the dugout to bring the Dragons within one.
They stranded the potential tying run at third base moments later on a fly ball to right fielder Cheyenne Dickens, but completed a stunning comeback in the seventh.
Trista Grobe reached base with one out after a fly ball into a tricky breeze and bright sun was not handled by Tyree in left field. Sophomore Madison Hayes-Gowen smoked the next offering from Mason beyond the left-center field for at two-run homer that put De Soto ahead 8-7.
Charleville worked three innings from the circle in relief of starter Evelyn Boyer, and appeared to have a game-ending swinging strikeout of Jill Wruck after an error and single placed runners at corners.
But her pitch skipped to the backstop. Hannah recovered it quickly, and rather than record the available putout at first base, flipped to Charleville late and wide as courtesy runner Kiley Jones slid across with the tying run.
Tyree nearly won it for North County as the ensuing hitter, but her sharp grounder was picked neatly by Boyer for an unassisted putout at third base to force extra innings.
Davis took over in the eighth for Mason, who allowed three earned runs on nine hits while striking out four, and was greeted by a leadoff single from Krystin Keith.
Her hit rolled through the infield and still got past two approaching outfielders as Keith advanced two bases to third. Sarah Bone walked to reach base for the fifth consecutive time, then stole second and scored her fourth run of the game behind Keith as Charleville and Hannah each put dribblers in play.
Charleville quickly netted two outs in the bottom of the eighth, including a massive strikeout of North County slugger Emma Becker, but Davis singled to extend the game and finish 3-for-5 overall.
Emma Keen followed with a comebacker that resulted in an infield hit as Charleville was unable to field the ball cleanly and scoop in time for the force out. Jones overran the base on the play after replacing Davis, however, and Bone applied an alert tag to end the contest.
The Lady Raiders lost another crucial runner along the base paths in the fifth. A strong throw from left field cut down senior Sam Payne at home as she attempted to score on Wruck’s single.
Bone homered to right-center for De Soto as the second batter of the game, then doubled and scored on a throwing error by shortstop Emilie Morgan in the third frame while going 3-for-3 overall.
North County elected to face Bone again in the fourth with two outs and first base open, and paid dearly when she lined a big two-run single to bring the Dragons within 5-4.
Boyer surrendered 10 hits over five innings, and emerged with a no-decision despite being taken deep twice by Tyree and Davis in response.
Payne paced North County by going 3-for-4 in her final game, and Morgan added two singles. Mason connected for an RBI double in the third inning after Becker drew a four-pitch walk.
The Lady Raiders appeared to seize early command following a solid second bottom of the second. Four straight batters reached safely ahead of two productive outs.
Mason reached on an error to load the bases after Davis singled up the middle and Keen walked. Payne ripped the eighth pitch she saw into left to square the contest at 1-1.
Dickens followed with a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and Wruck bunted a pair of teammates into scoring position. Tyree capitalized with a scorching two-run double into the left-field corner, and ended 2-for-5 overall with three RBI.
North County earned the better No. 4 seed with a 1-0 victory during the regular season that bore no resemblance to the rematch.