CARTHAGE — Situational hitting.
The Neosho Lady Wildcats had situational hitting Thursday night.
In the form of singles, doubles, and even triples, scoring all 11 of their runs with two outs during a 11-1 run-rule win over the Joplin Lady Eagles in the Class 4, District 12 tournament at Carthage’s Fair Acres Sports Complex.
“It was big that we got baserunners on and were able to score with two outs,” Neosho head coach Catie Cummins said. “Really proud of the way that the bottom of our lineup hit. Typically, you get a lot of offensive production from the top of our lineup, but the bottom of our lineup really showed up today.”
Conversely, Neosho sophomore Kyla Daspit earned her first postseason win, allowing one run (earned) on three hits over five innings. She struck out two and walked none.
“I thought Kyla threw an excellent game,” Cummins said. “In the postgame talk, we talked about the one first and third situation that we’re going to throw it down and if we don’t get an out, we’ve got to get up quickly and get the throw back home. Really, that was my only critique of the game, because that was the only run they scored in the game and our defense looked solid other than that.”
Neosho improved to 12-15 overall entering its semifinal game Friday against No. 2 seed Republic.
“Republic’s a really good team and they kind of put it on us earlier in the year (12-5),” Cummins said. “What we’ve been telling them in the last week is that everybody’s 0-0. Nobody cares after today that we tonight. It’s great that we won tonight and we’ll take that excitement into (Friday), but once again, we’re 0-0. It’s anybody game. Another thing I said to them (after the game) is that just as long as the 20 of us, the coaches and the kids that are in the dugout, think we can win (Friday), we have a chance. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. Their opinions don’t matter. It’s what our kids think and the coaches think will help us.”
The last time Cummins was interviewed by the Daily News was the Carthage jamboree on the eve of the season. In that jamboree, Neosho came away 1-1-1 overall and tied Joplin 1-1. Situational hitting was lacking at that point.
“I thought we did a lot of things well,” Cummins said at the time. “Our pitcher (Daspit) kept us in every game. We got a lot of baserunners on. We just didn’t push them across the plate, so in turn we tied one, lost one, and won one, but we had a lot of runners on all day that didn’t cross the plate and it kinda defeats the purpose. In softball, you’ve got to score and we didn’t do a lot of scoring.”
Cummins finished off the interview with an apt prophecy, “Our situational hitting has got to improve and once we do that, I think we’ll be just fine scoring runs.”
Oh, the Lady Wildcats were just fine scoring runs Thursday night.
In the bottom of the first, Mikayla Long established the tone with a two-out double bringing home Tori Frazier. Long came home on a wild pitch for a 2-0 Neosho lead.
Joplin executed the double steal in the third for the Lady Eagles’ lone run.
In the Joplin fourth, Cierra Barber connected with a two-out double, but the Lady Eagles — unlike Neosho — could not push Barber across the plate.
Then, in the Neosho fourth, the Lady Wildcats jumped ahead 5-1 after a Kaitlyn Hawkins two-run single and a wild pitch scored Megan Geller. Kayla Bach started the rally with a two-out double, Geller worked a walk, and Amber Shepeard loaded the bases with a perfect bunt — Bach, Geller, and Shepeard are the No. 7 through No. 9 spots in the Lady Wildcats order.
In the fifth, Neosho finished off the Lady Eagles with a Shepeard two-run triple, a Frazier RBI single, a Hawkins RBI double, and Long’s two-run hit.
Neosho finished the night with 13 hits — Frazier, Hawkins, Long, Bach, and Shepeard each had two. Frazier, Bach, Geller, and Shepeard each scored two runs. Hawkins and Long each picked up three RBI, while Shepeard drove in two.
Layni Merriman scored Joplin’s lone run and Barber, Merriman, and Taylor Clouse each had one of the three hits against Daspit.
Defensively, the Lady Wildcats committed no errors behind their sophomore pitcher.
CLASS 4, DISTRICT 12 SOFTBALL: Two-out hitting propels Neosho over Joplin
CARTHAGE — Situational hitting.