Purdy, Mo. — If nothing else, Kassidy Anderson has great timing.
The Mt. Vernon junior connected on a seventh-inning home run to propel the Lady Mountaineers into the MSHSAA semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Purdy.
It was her first of the season.
After dropping the bat, Anderson had no idea it cleared the left-center fence until she reached third.
“When I hit it, I was like, ‘Oh, that felt really good,’” Anderson said. “I kept going, and then (head coach Matt Schubert) was not even there at the base. I was, like, ‘do I keep going, or do I stop?’”
The two-run blast accounted for the only scoring in a seven-inning pitcher’s duel between Mt. Vernon’s Katelyn Kotlarz and Purdy’s Lauren Schallert.
Just as she had been leading up to the quarterfinal matchup, Kotlarz was nearly unhittable Friday afternoon.
The junior right-hander scattered five hits and tallied nine strikeouts in her seven innings of work.
Heading into the game, coach Schubert felt his pitcher was more than ready for the task at hand.
“She did a great job getting locked in,” Schubert said. “I haven’t seen her that locked in in warm-ups, probably, in the two years that she’s been here, and I was like, ‘you know … we’re going to have the best chance we’ve got.’”
Purdy’s Lauren Schallert was just as effective in the circle, with five hits and six strikeouts on the afternoon.
Prior to Anderson’s blast, Schallert managed to work herself out of trouble in the fifth inning.
After giving up a walk and bunt single to put a pair of runners on with no outs, Schallert proceeded to strike out the next three batters.
Purdy head coach Lori Videmschek praised her sophomore right-hander’s performance on the biggest of stages.
“I can’t say enough about her,” Videmschek said. “She played well today and kept us in the ballgame. Five hits, and none were back-to-back — That’s all you can ask your starting pitcher to do.”
After walking Raegan Prescott to open the seventh inning, Schallert threw a pair of pitches to Anderson.
Neither one was in the strike zone.
“It was a little bit outside,” Anderson said. “That’s, honestly, where my swings or my best hits come from — a little bit outside.”
With a two-run lead, Kotlarz went to work to get the final three outs of the contest.
In the bottom of the seventh, Purdy had an opportunity with two runners on with nobody out; however, Kotlarz and Mt. Vernon stiffened to get the final three outs and seal the victory.
Known to work high in the strike zone with a devastating rise ball, Kotlarz was forced to dig deeper into her tool box against a patient Purdy lineup.
“My fastball was working really well,” Kotlarz said. “It was a lot harder than it usually is, and then I have a curve and a screw, so those were working pretty good all day, too.”
After the game, Schubert was relieved to be moving on from a difficult and all-too-familiar opponent.
“It feels like we’ve played them about 400 times in the last five years,” Schubert said. “And it’s always a game like this. At this point, who’s going to make a good run?”
For Purdy and Videmscheck, the game came down to a handful of key plays.
“You’ve got to give (Mt. Vernon) credit,” Videmschek said. “They came up with big hits, and I think (Anderson) hadn’t hit a home run all year until now. But she got a good pitch and drove it over the fence — that’s all you can say. It was a good game both ways.”
Mt. Vernon now moves on to the semifinal round at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield.
The Lady ‘Neers will face Kennett on Friday, May 17.
State quarterfinal: Mt. Vernon – 2, Purdy – 0
Mt. Vernon 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 2
Purdy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
Hits: Mt. Vernon – 5, Purdy – 5
Errors: Mt. Vernon – 1, Purdy – 0
LOB: Mt. Vernon – 5, Purdy – 7
2B: Purdy (Annabelle Bowman – 1)
HR: Mt. Vernon (Kennedy Anderson – 1)
RBI: Mt. Vernon (Anderson – 2)
Mt. Vernon Pitching
Katelyn Kotlarz (7.00 IP, 9K, 5H, 3BB, 1HBP)
Lauren Schallert (7.00 IP, 6K, 5H, 2BB)
Time of game: 1:34