CARTHAGE — The McDonald County Lady Mustangs could not repeat as district champions and fell 3-1 to the host Carthage Lady Tigers in the Class 4, District 12 quarterfinals Thursday night at the Fair Acres Sports Complex.

McDonald County struck first with a Maddie Colvin RBI single in the third and Carthage took advantage of a pair of McDonald County errors to push across three runs in the top of the fourth.

Carthage’s Emily Calhoon and McDonald County’s Alexa Hopkins each pitched strong Thursday.

Calhoon earned the win, allowing one run (earned) on six hits over seven innings. She struck out six and walked two.

Meanwhile, Hopkins allowed three runs (all unearned) on five hits over seven innings. She struck out two and walked one.

“We didn’t really get the bats going too much,” McDonald County head coach Skyler Rawlins said. “Had some timely errors. We had two big ones that led to a couple runs, but other than that, we hit it right at them and couldn’t get any momentum going. Carthage played well and they were better today.”

McDonald County finished with an 18-11 overall record and the Lady Mustangs went through peaks and valleys over the season. Early in the season, for example, McDonald County lost a pair of 10-3 games on back-to-back days against Neosho.

“We started out the season 1-5,” Rawlins said. “We sat and talked about where we want to be and what we need to do. From there, we ran off about 13 (wins) in a row and played well in the middle, and gave ourselves a chance to be successful., finished second in the Carthage Tournament and gave ourselves a chance to win another conference championship, which Monett got us there. We improved over the year and that’s what we always want to do, get better at the time of districts.”

The Lady Mustangs will lose three players for next season — departing seniors Cloee Helm, Kenzie Stephens, and Miryan Martinez. Helm and Stephens have been starters in the McDonald County outfield — Helm center, Stephens right — and fixtures in the lineup.

“Our three seniors have been with us for four years,” Rawlins said. “They know what it takes to be successful and led by example. Those are three quiet girls that do the right thing every day and helped our team improve on a daily basis.

“Cloee has been our leadoff for the last three years and played a great center field for us. She’s our spark plug that makes everything work. You couldn’t ask for a better person or player. Same goes for Kenzie and Miryan. They’re good people, good softball players, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Standout junior catcher Kylie Helm doubled twice for the Lady Mustangs and scored their only run. She hit the ball hard to the outfield in her other two at-bats.

Sophomore shortstop Chloe Colvin had two hits and sophomores Whitney Kinser and Maddie Colvin each had the other Lady Mustang hits.

Calhoon supported herself very nicely with a two-run double scoring Sydney Peters and Hallie Patrick. Andi Morris brought home courtesy runner Aubrey Willis, who ran for Calhoon. Calhoon and Kali Godfrey each doubled for the Lady Tigers.

Carthage fielded cleanly behind Calhoon, committing no errors, the main difference in the game.

Carthage improved to 15-14 overall and earned the right to play conference and district rival Webb City in the semifinals Friday night.