The Plato Lady Eagles fell to the West County Lady Bulldogs, 6-5, in the state quarterfinals on Thursday evening. The Eagles made a dramatic comeback but it was not enough. The young Eagles left five runners on base, including the tying run in the top of the seventh inning.
West County struck first with two runs in the first inning but Plato’s starting pitcher, freshman Kaitlin Garrett, settled down and held the Bulldogs scoreless until the fifth inning. West County starting pitcher, junior Rikki Wright, kept Plato off-balance with her “junk ball” pitches. Not having a devastating fastball, Wright kept the Plato hitters guessing with her rise ball, drop ball, and curve ball. Plato also did their own cause no good with a few base running blunders.
The bottom of the fifth inning, West County got the lead-off hitter on when she reached on a tough play at second base. Plato played strong defense and threw two runners out at the plate before Ivy Meinershagen hit a two-run bomb and Erica Barton followed with a solo shot, giving West County a 6-0 lead. The West County fans were ecstatic but the Plato faithful still believed in their kids.
“That play at second, it’s a game of inches,” said Plato coach Justin Copley. “We take risks; I’m a risk-taker and the girls know that. Sometimes the risks that we take as coaches don’t play out and sometimes they do. I told the girls, when you walk off this field, if your parents have any questions about what happened today, we as coaches will shoulder that. Sometimes we make questionable calls and that’s okay, we’ll take that every day, but our girls did a great job.”
Plato started to get to Wright in the sixth inning when lead-off hitter Mckayla “Mac” Miller was hit by a pitch. Abbey Penley then reached base on an error. Garrett drew a walk to load the bases. Two wild pitches scored two runs, then two errors scored two more runs, making the score 6-4.
“I’ve said this a million times: our girls don’t let down,” said Copley. “It’s been evident in several games, from the time we start the first inning until the time we’re done, we don’t give up. We had a couple of rough innings, there, and no one to point the finger at, but the important thing is we never let up.”
In the bottom of the sixth, West County was retired one-two-three, setting up for a possible comeback by the Eagles.
Freshman Hannah Smith led off the top of the seventh with a base hit. With one out, Miller drove in Smith but was caught trying to stretch a single into a double. With two outs, Penley reached base on a bloop single, putting the tying run at first. Cleanup hitter Garrett fouled off six pitches before grounding out to the second baseman to end the game.
“I’m proud of the girls,” said Copley. “I think they’ve got a big future ahead of them and I’m excited to see it. We’ve had a great, great season and I do look forward to seeing what the future holds for these young players. We are definitely a young team and we have a lot of growing to do. Game after game, we’ve been resilient. Composure is a big part of our game. Some of the things that happened tonight we’ve got to clean up and move forward, but I’m really proud of our girls.”
Plato 5 West County 6
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West County 200 040 x — 6