AURORA — The McDonald County Lady Mustangs put together a dominant all-around performance during their 10-0 run-rule victory Thursday over the Carl Junction Lady Bulldogs in the Class 3, District 12 semifinals at Aurora High.
McDonald County’s offense pushed across four runs in the first, three in the second, and three in the fifth to end it.
Senior catcher Kylie Helm blasted a pair of home runs with one each in the first two innings and Alexa Hopkins rocketed one out to center after Helm’s first blast for back-to-back homers.
Showcasing their speed, Rita Santillan doubled and stole two bases, while Chloe Colvin and Caitlin Hall each tallied one steal.
Meanwhile, sophomore pitcher Hopkins overpowered the Lady Bulldogs with only a pair of singles allowed over five innings, by Maddy Bowers and Emme Beaver respectively. Hopkins struck out three and walked none.
Defensively, the Lady Mustangs committed no errors.
“It started in the circle for us,” McDonald County head coach Skyler Rawlins said. “Lexi threw a great game and defense, they made every routine play that we asked them to. Offensively, we started hot and we were barreling up some balls that I thought we should and we didn’t miss many. You give Lexi the lead, it’s going to be tough to beat her. We did a real good job with that.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, Seneca or Monett, it will be a tough game. It’s just another game for us. It’s not a bigger game, it’s just the next game. Our girls are taking that mindset that if we play our game, we’ll see what happens.”
McDonald County and Monett have been the powerhouse teams in the Big 8 Conference in recent seasons and the Lady Cubs are the defending Class 3 state champions.
McDonald County improved to 23-4 on the season with the win Thursday and the Lady Mustangs have their shot at a second district title in three seasons, with Monett standing in the way after its 10-2 semifinal win over Seneca.
In their semifinal win, the Lady Mustangs plated their 10 runs on nine hits and Colvin, Helm, and Hopkins each led the way with two hits. Santillan, Kaylee Eberley, and Leslie Yousey rounded out the hits. Nearly half of the Lady Mustangs’ hits were good for extra bases.
McDonald County still found ways to score runs Thursday despite outs, with Whitney Kinser and Eberley both picking up RBI on sacrifice flies.
Eight different Lady Mustangs player reached the runs column: Santillan and Helm crossed home plate twice and Colvin, Kinser, Hopkins, Kristen Cornell, Leslie Yousey (who scored the 10th and final run), and Hall each scored once.
McDonald County clinched its Big 8 title with a 5-4 win over Monett only 10 days before their rematch for the district championship.
In that thrilling victory, McDonald County led the Lady Cubs 4-2 before Monett tied it up with single runs in the sixth and seventh. In the eighth, McDonald County pushed across the go-ahead run and then Hopkins shut the door on the Lady Cubs in the bottom half for the victory.
Walks caught up with Monett pitcher Kassie McCallister that night, especially in the eighth, and she issued the Lady Mustangs six free passes on the night.
Meanwhile, Hopkins walked none and struck out five.
Colvin led McDonald County with four hits and Helm and Kinser each collected two while Helm drove in a pair of runs.
It seems like every time McDonald County and Monett get together in softball, it’s a big game with a title at stake.
Monett 10, Seneca 2
AURORA — The Lady Cubs parlayed a pair of big innings, with six runs in the third and three in the sixth (a nifty juxtaposition for Monett), en route to an eight-run semifinal win over the Lady Indians.
Seneca pitcher Chelsea Beville took the loss and she allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 18 hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
Monett hurler Kassie McCallister earned the win with two runs allowed (both earned) on eight hits over seven innings and two strikeouts and one walk.
Kelli McCallister led the Lady Cubs with four hits, while the trio of Kaesha George, Maddi Coones, and Amberlyn Schmidly each had three and the duo of Abby McCaffrey and Taylor Southard each had two, those players combining for 17 of the hits with Katie Schmidt picking up the other hit.
Kayla French and Chaney Platner each led Seneca with two hits and Mekaylee Beard, Kaydin McKnight, Mady Dunbar, and Sierra Lannon rounded out the eight hits with one each.
Fleet-of-foot leadoff hitters George and French started their respective first innings in style — George, a slapper, showed her power with a fly ball to left over the head of Lannon and then she showcased her speed as she crossed home plate standing up. In fact, she raised her arms triumphantly. French hit a triple to right in the Seneca first. George and French helped produce a 1-all game after one.
Kelli McCallister’s two-run double highlighted the six-run third and Schmidly’s two-run single accounted for 66.6 percent of the Lady Cubs’ runs in the sixth.
Platner scored on McKnight’s RBI groundout in the sixth for the game’s final run. Platner hit a single and advanced 120 feet on wild pitches.
Seneca finished its season 12-10 and Lady Indian seniors Grace Johnson, Gracie Heckart, Platner, Ali Kohler, and Beard wrapped up their high school careers.
Monett took a 16-15 overall record into the district title clash with McDonald County.