By Don Eskins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
When it comes to playing for a district championship and an opportunity to move on to sectionals you can throw away all the records, seedings and rankings. With so much at stake you can expect to see only the best from those vying for a district title.
Such was the case for the top seeded Forsyth Panthers and the second seeded Hollister Tigers who squared off on Friday morning, in Hollister, in this year’s 2019 Class 1 District 9 softball final.
After five and one-half innings of play the third ranked 21-3 Panthers held onto a slim 2-1 lead over the seventeenth ranked 12-6 Tigers and the 2019 district title was still up for grabs. (Rankings by Maxpreps)
But that all changed in the bottom of the sixth as Forsyth hurler Rachel Essary stepped up to the plate. With two strikes, Essary stroked the ball over the right center field wall to put the Lady Panthers out in front 3-1.
“With two strikes on me I was swinging at anything close,” said Essary. “She’d been pitching great all day but she hung one on me and I got it all. Seemed like it just wouldn’t stop going. It was really a great feeling.”
Essary’s heroics sparked a four hit- four run inning for Forsyth who went on to defeat the Tigers 6-1 and capture this year’s 2019 C1D9 District championship.
Also picking up hits in the sixth for the Lady Panthers were Kyleigh Kincaid and Hope Borkenhagen with doubles and Katrina Drake who singled.
The close victory was a big one for Forsyth High, something they haven’t had a lot of this year.
“We’ve been fortunate this season to have scored a lot of early runs in our ballgames for most of the year. So this week we’ve been talking a lot about playing hard for seven full innings, in games like this, and the importance of making every swing, every pitch and every catch count,” said Lady Panther coach Collin Lyeria.
Picking up the victory was Essary who pushed her seasonal record up to 18-1. The sophomore hurler gave up just one run on six hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Taking the loss was Bug Bailey. Bailey was tagged for four earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
While the defeat was a tough one for Hollister head coach Willy Morgan says the future looks bright.
“Our kids played well today. Our pitching and defense was good for most of the game. We just made to many mistakes on the base paths,” said Morgan. “But our kids have really come a long way. The first year I was here we didn’t win a game and look where they are now. We’ve worked hard on building a winning culture at Hollister, one that our kids and community can be proud of. I think we can say our kids are getting there.”
The Lady Panthers will now meet either Purdy or Crane at sectionals on Monday in Forsyth. A win there will keep their dreams alive for a state title in 2019.
“We’ve played both teams this year and done well against both of them,” said Lyeria. “But both teams will have a lot to play for, just like both teams today, so we’ll be expecting only the best from either Crane or Purdy on Monday. But our girls will be ready.”
Forsyth: Hope Borkenhagen- 2/2 (2 x 2B’s 2 RBI’s); Rachel Essary- 2/3 (HR 1B 2 RBI’s); Katrina Drake-2/4 (2 x 1B’s 1 RBI); Kyleigh Kincaid- 1/3 (2B); Emily Shipman- 1/3 (1B 1RBI); Oletha Rich- 1-3(1B).
Hollister: Madelyn Pyatt- 1/2 (1B); Reina Dodge 1/3 (1B 1RBI); Madison Frenzel- 1/3 (1B); Mackenzie Green 1/3 (1B); Jacquelyn Pyatt- 1/3 (2B); Shyannah Frenzel 1/3 (1B).
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Hollister 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 6 1
Forsyth 1 0 1 0 0 4 6 9 1
Sectionals: May 6 @ Forsyth; vs Purdy or Crane