By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CARTHAGE, Mo. – A year ago the Webb City softball team watched as Republic earned a walk-off win over the Cardinals in the Class 4 District 11 championship.
Webb City made sure it wasn’t going to happen again.
With another strong outing from junior pitcher Haidyn Berry and a solid defense behind her, Webb City blanked Republic 4-0 on Friday evening, earning its second district title in three years.
“Last year was a tough one to take, ending in a walk-off like it did,” Webb City coach Shauna Friend said.
“There were a lot of these girls who were on the field last year,” she said. “They were there, they experienced it and they knew they didn’t want to feel that way again. Right from the start they were determined to hold that plaque tonight.”
Republic was limited to just five baserunners in the game. Senior Megan Weis singled in the top of the first and junior Avery Romans led off the second with a single. But after the Romans single and a fielder’s choice, Berry retired the next 13 batters she faced.
Webb City got on the scoreboard in the first when senior Stacy Tyndall doubled to score senior Keira Jackson, who singled on the infield. The Cardinals went on to load the bases in the inning but came away with just the one run.
Tyndall singled to left in the third and later scored on junior Alyssa Jennings’ single to center to make it 2-0.
Senior Taylor Harris doubled to open the fourth and a walk by senior Reanna Blinzler put runners at the corners for sophomore Peyton Hawkins, who bunted to score pinch runner Brynna Cupp from third.
The Cardinals’ final run came in the fifth. Senior Karson Culver, Harris and sophomore Kaylyn Gilbert each singled with Gilbert driving in Culver.
Webb City left the bases loaded in two different innings.
“We put the ball in play a lot,” Friend said. “We did leave a lot on. That’s kind of been our story for a few games but we did what it took to get the job done.”
Republic managed two hits in the sixth but trailed 4-0 by then with Webb City in control of the game.
Berry struck out two in the first, two in the second and three in the fifth. She finished with 12 strikeouts.
Her toughest inning was the sixth. Weis doubled with two outs and junior AJ Fenske followed with a single. Berry then got a strikeout to escape the jam. The Tigers might have scored a run on the Weis double but Webb City senior Reanna Blinzler made a close play at first for the second out.
She got a fly out and a strikeout to finish off the seventh after allowing a Riley Laub single.
“Haidyn came out with so much confidence tonight,” Friend said. “I’m just really proud of how she came out tonight and how determined she was to throw her best game and she did.”
“I sure felt like she was throwing a little harder as the game went on,” she said. “I think she had a goal in mind and she was going after it and her team was right there behind her making the plays.”
Senior Stacy Tyndall made a diving catch in center field to end the third inning and sophomore Emma Welch made a nice catch in right on a foul fly ball in the seventh.
“They just really backed her up,” Friend said of the defense.
“Their pitcher Berry just did her job tonight and she’s a quality pitcher and they’re a quality program,” said Republic coach Lee Dishman. “It was two quality programs going at it. We just came out on the short end of the stick. It happens. It’s a learning experience for our young girls. We’ll move on and continue to grow as a program.”
The loss ends Republic’s season with an 18-10 record. Webb City, 21-6, will play Raymore-Peculiar on Oct. 23.