By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With four outs to go, Mt. Vernon’s dreams of playing for a state championship turned into a nightmare ending.
Errors and missed scoring opportunities cost the Mountaineers a chance for their second state title in four years. Kennett rallied for a 5-4 win Friday evening in a state semifinals matchup at Killian Sports Complex in Springfield.
“We had a couple mistakes we hadn’t (made) recently,” said Mt. Vernon coach Matt Schubert. “It cost us. It was a good game. We had a chance to win at the end. We had some bad coaching decisions more than anything.
“The girls played well, they played hard. They had a chance to win.”
Kennett, aided by a Mt. Vernon error, scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out rally.
Mt. Vernon had a chance to tie or retake the lead in the top of the seventh. But after putting runners on first and third with no outs, the Mountaineers came up empty.
“In these type of ballgames, if you make mistakes like that, good teams will take advantage,” Schubert said.
Mt. Vernon (21-10 overall) faces Potosi (20-2 overall) in the 3rd place game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Killian.
Kennett, which won spring softball state titles in 2014 and 2015, faces Lincoln in the title game at noon Saturday.
Kennett overcame five errors.
“I don’t think we played our best game defensively – that’s kind of what got us here to this point,” said Kennett coach Kevin McCaig. “We booted the ball around defensively against a good team. They capitalized.
“It’s relief that we got away with that, and (excitement) that we came up with big hits when we needed them.”
Mt. Vernon senior Michaela McChesney went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. She led off the sixth inning with a double, and scored on Kassidy Anderson’s RBI groundout that gave Mt. Vernon a 4-3 lead.
McChesney had an RBI single in a two-run third inning that saw Mt. Vernon take a 3-2 lead.
Kennett’s sixth-inning rally started with a two-walk. Jaden Yates’ RBI double tied the game, and she would score after a Mt. Vernon error.
“At that point, sixth inning, we had to try to put the pressure on the defense and sneak in a run,” McCaig said.
Mt. Vernon starter Katelyn Kotlarz pitched all six innings for the Mountaineers. She gave up five runs, three walks, five hits and struck out eight.
Kennett starter Emillie Johnson tossed a complete game with six hits and two earned runs allowed. She struck out six.
Mt. Vernon had a promising start to the seventh inning, but had a baserunner tagged out at third after an infield pop-up.