The Neosho Lady Wildcats used one big inning to build a 9-2 lead after three innings en route to a 10-3 win Thursday night over defending Class 4, District 12 champion McDonald County.

The Neosho Lady Wildcats used one big inning to build a 9-2 lead after three innings en route to a 10-3 win Thursday night over defending Class 4, District 12 champion McDonald County.
The Lady Mustangs opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the first, but the Lady Wildcats answered with 10 consecutive runs — one in the first, one in the second, seven in the third, and one in the fifth.
McDonald County struggled getting outs in the third and Neosho took advantage with some savvy baserunning and timely hitting building that seven-run lead.
McDonald County head coach Skyler Rawlins took a step back, further up the third base line, before heading back toward his team after the Lady Mustangs recorded the final out of the frame. Rawlins talked with his players, first saying “Play better” and working his voice up to a final “PLAY BETTER.”
The Lady Mustangs played somewhat better the rest of the way, but the damage had already been done by the Lady Wildcats, who earned their first win of the season and the first with new head coach Catie Cummins.
It did not help McDonald County that star catcher Kylie Helm left the game after colliding with freshman pitcher Alexa Hopkins on Megan Geller’s bunt in front of the plate. Helm walked off the field on her own power and the Lady Mustangs moved Maddie Colvin from first base to catcher and brought Kaylee Cornell in for Colvin. Cornell relieved Hopkins after the Lady Wildcats touched her for eight runs and she had a pair of hits in three at-bats.
The Lady Wildcats’ highlights included a RBI double by Taylor Baker and two hits for each Sierra Jones and Kyla Daspit. Amber Shepeard also drove in a pair of runs. Neosho's offense came alive with 10 runs and 10 hits, just a couple days after being held scoreless by Cassville in the season opener.
Cloee Helm, Chloe Colvin, and Cornell each led the way for the Lady Mustangs with two hits, while Colvin, Kylie Helm, and Rita Santillan each had RBI.
Daspit earned her first career win in the circle, allowing three runs (all earned) on 10 hits over seven innings. She pitched to contact, striking out and walking just one each.
Both teams definitely made lots of contact Thursday, since Daspit's strikeout accounted for the lone out by strikeout among 39 outs.
Hurting the Lady Mustangs most were their four errors, while the Lady Wildcats finished with none. Erase that seven-run bottom of the third and it would have been a 3-all score.
McDonald County and Neosho played again at 11:45 a.m. Friday in the Joplin Athletic Complex in the 13th annual Paige Neal/Christina Freeman Invitational. The Lady Mustangs and the Lady Wildcats were placed in the same pool alongside Blue Springs and Webb City.
Neosho’s win Thursday over McDonald County ended a three-game losing streak in the series, since Neosho defeated McDonald County 9-6 on August 29, 2014 in the first day and first game of the Neal/Freeman Invitational. Just the day before the Lady Mustangs run-ruled Neosho 11-1.
Before that 9-6 win for Neosho, McDonald County had won four straight against the Lady Wildcats.