JOPLIN — After matching Republic blow-for-blow for three innings at the Class 4 District 12 Tournament at the Joplin Athletic Complex on Thursday, Neosho couldn’t keep up in the late innings as the Lady Tigers went on to win 17-7 in six innings.
The loss ended Neosho’s season at 6-20.
Neosho took command early with three runs in the top of the first inning. Morgan Rathmann led off with a single and moved to second on a bunt single by Lindsey Vance. Hailey Geller then reached on an error to load the bases with no outs, and Bailey Spence walked to force home Rathmann with the game’s first run. Cassie Dickens later drove in Vance on a fielder’s choice and a single by Chandler Ellis scored Geller to make it 3-0.
But the Lady Tigers would answer in the bottom of the first with six runs of their own. They added another run in the second to make it 7-3 before the Lady Wildcats would answer two innings later.
Rathmann again came through for Neosho in a big way in the top of the fourth. With two runners on and the Lady Wildcats trailing 7-4, Rathmann tripled to left field to drive in a pair. The left fielder fell down while tracking the fly ball, nearly allowing Rathmann to score on the play. Instead, she came home on a single by Spence to tie it 7-7.
The rally wouldn’t last, however, as the Lady Tigers took control in the home half of the inning with four more runs to make it 11-7. They then added two more in the fifth and four in the sixth to end the game.
“We battled Republic back and forth,” Lady Wildcats coach Melissa Clark said. “Republic had timely hits there towards the end of the game. Those last two innings we just were not able to produce and score any runs.”
That put a close to a season that produced some positives for the Lady Wildcats.
“We didn’t have the outcome we had originally hoped for at the beginning of the season,” Clark said in summarizing the season. “But we definitely had some times during the season where individuals really stepped up and made some plays. We have areas we need to continue to work and improve on. Those are things we’re going to continue working on and getting better at.”
Rathmann closed out her career at Neosho by going 4-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored and two RBI. Vance had two hits while Geller, Spence, Dickens, Ellis and Danielle Forkner had a hit apiece.