The stands were packed at Branson’s softball field Monday night to watch the postponed Class 4 District 11 championship game. An explosive second inning helped No. 1 seed Ozark defeat Branson 12-2 in five innings.
Branson had the bases loaded with two outs, but Ozark pitcher Abbie Clanton was able to pitch her way out of the jam.
“I think we had a mental letdown after we had a chance to score in the first inning,” Branson coach Mary Arnold said. “We missed some spots. Ozark has some good hitters and they are going to make you pay for your mistakes.”
Brittany Nimmo singled to start the bottom of the second inning. Brooke Kroger had a sacrifice bunt to move Nimmo to second. Samantha Dexter got on with an error by third baseman, Chelsea Weston. The Lady Pirates pitcher, Hannah Johnson, walked Hayley Chambers to load the bases.
“Nimmo started the inning off hitting the ball hard and the rest of the girls followed suit.”, Ozark coach Yancey Little said. “Just putting the middle of the bat on the ball, taking some good swings and not chasing any pitches out of the zone allowed us to be successful at the plate.”
Ashley O’Brien hit a stand up double to score three runs putting Ozark ahead 3-0. Hailee Vigneaux reached on an error and then O’Brien and Vigneaux moved forward on a passed ball. Bailey Elliot singled to score O’Brien and Vigneaux.
Bailey Click hit a two-run home run giving the Lady Tigers a 7-0 lead followed by a double by Kroger to give Ozark their last run of the inning.
Ozark’s Vigneaux scored again in the third with a single by Elliot.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Nimmo singled and Dexter followed with a homer to make the score 11-0.
The Lady Pirates were able to get started offensively in the fifth off relief pitcher Nimmo. Avery Aulgur and Bri Presley walked. Then Johnson reached first on an error. Aulgur scored on a wild pitch, while Presley and Johnson advanced. Presley scored on a fielder’s choice by Tino Stevens cutting Ozarks’ lead 11-2.
“No one expected us to be here,” Arnold said. “These girls battled back and played the game of their life against Nixa, the game they are capable of playing and you can’t ask anymore than that.”
Vigneaux scored in the bottom of the fifth off a single by Click to end the game 12-2.
Winning pitcher Clanton had eight strikeouts and three walks in four innings pitched.
Little said, “I thought Abbie pitched pretty well. Early on she struggled in the first inning, but after that she settled down.”
Nimmo pitched the fifth inning in relief giving up two runs with one strikeout and two walks.
Branson’s Johnson gave up twelve runs with three strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
Ozark moves on to play Webb City in sectionals at Webb City, Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. Ozark has already lost to Webb City twice this season.
“Webb City is a very familiar opponent and a good ball club, but if we hit the ball like we did today we will be fine,” Little said.
Ozark 12, Branson 2
Ozark: 0 8 1 2 1—12
Branson: 0 0 0 0 2—2
Hits – Ozark 13, Branson 2
Errors – Ozark 2, Branson 5