STE. GENEVIEVE – Potosi hitters continued to swing with authority despite trailing early on Wednesday, looking for any available opening to create an extensive scoring rally.
The Lady Trojans seized their moment by producing six runs in the third inning, and claimed their first district championship in program history by defeating Ste. Genevieve 10-4.
Sophomore Jaci Short delivered a clutch swing with a scalded two-run single, and Sydney Litton had the loudest on a two-run home run that solidified the outcome.
Freshman pitcher Sami Huck recorded nine strikeouts to outweigh six hits allowed, and Potosi (18-1) roared into the state playoffs while carrying the target of a No. 1 ranking.
“I think we have handled the pressure pretty well, as young as our players are,” Potosi coach Tyler Beers said. “I harp on it every day to not get too caught up in that stuff and play each game like it’s their last, because now it could be.”
Leadoff batter Kennedy Coleman equaled Short and Litton at 2-for-4 overall, and the Lady Trojans picked up offensive contributions from each position in the lineup.
Potosi defeated the Dragons for the fourth time this season, but required a massive momentum swing after Ste. Genevieve initially jumped ahead on its home turf.
Brittney Kreitler raced home on a wild pitch, and a subsequent error at third base made it 2-0 after Huck plunked Julia Koetting to load the bases in the top of the third inning.
Dragons pitcher Alyssa Huber retired her first six batters faced without incident, but would not survive a bottom of the third that began with consecutive walks to Kylee Price and Catie Mosier.
No. 9 hitter Chelsea Charboneau followed with a well-placed bunt for a hit, and Coleman narrowed the deficit with a shallow single that barely eluded the reach of the right fielder.
Short stepped in with the bases still loaded following a force play at home, and battled back from a 0-2 count to slash a go-ahead, two-RBI single into right-center for a 3-2 edge.
“I have played this game for a long time, and the only thought going through my head was to leave it all on the field,” Short said. “This is a district game, and I have to swing if I get a good pitch.”
Litton added the first two of her team-high four RBI with a chopped single that deflected off a reaching shortstop deep in the hole.
The Lady Trojans seemed more relaxed as further action transpired. Emma Eaton added another sharp single to chase Huber, and Hannah Jarvis lifted a sacrifice fly that was dropped.
Huck settled in and protected the lead by dispatching 11 of 13 batters during a hitless stretch that had five strikeouts sprinkled in. She was rewarded with more run support in the fifth.
Jarvis drew a two-out walk from reliever Autumn Basler, and Price punched an RBI single through the left side before Mosier ripped an RBI double to right.
“We’ve gotten off to a slow start the last couple of games,” Beers said. “It seems like we’re going after the pitcher’s pitches instead of letting those go and driving the ones that we’re more comfortable with.
“After they scored a couple of runs and put some pressure on us, I thought we did a better job of being patient in the bottom of that inning. We drew a couple of walks and were going to lay down a sacrifice bunt that ended up being beaten out. We then exploded for six runs, and that was huge.”
Potosi soon achieved double digits in the run column for the 14th time this spring, and will host a state sectional game against the District 6 champion.
Bismarck bounced top seed Clearwater from that bracket on Tuesday, and is awaiting the winner of a suspended semifinal game between Naylor and Eminence.
Ste. Genevieve (15-7) matched a single-season school record for wins after knocking off MAAA rival Central for the second time in three tries during the semifinal round.
The Dragons opted to transition from fall postseason eligibility to spring this year – just like Potosi – but will wait a while longer for their initial district crown.
Koetting smashed a two-run double in the seventh with her final varsity plate appearance after Kreitler and Huber had singled. But Price fielded a two-hopper near second base for the final out.
Litton pulled several vicious cuts deep into foul territory during the game, but finally connected over the fence in the Potosi sixth after Short doubled deep to left-center.
“It’s a super sweet feeling,” Litton said. “We’re just taking things pitch by pitch and game by game and seeing what happens. We’ve been waiting for this and finally got it.”
Huck singled and scored to help her own cause. Beers called upon his youngest option to command the circle with shining results after Litton tossed six innings Tuesday against Valle Catholic.
“We have three really solid pitchers who I can send out there at any time with confidence, and they will give us a chance to win,” Beers said. “It’s a tremendous advantage I believe that we have.”
Huber finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Sydney Oehlert singled while reaching base three times, and Basler legged out an infield hit for Ste. Genevieve.