The Ozark Lady Tigers scored 10 runs on 11 hits, including adding five in the bottom of the sixth, after Coach Yancey Little cleared his bench to get his reserves playing time.
No matter who was batting, the Lady Tigers were getting hits – and solid ones. The deep bench has been a catalyst in helping the team get to 15-4 with only a couple weeks left before district championship play.
“You know, that’s the thing with our group - they may have been reserves but a lot of them would be starting any other time and that’s just the depth we have right now,” Little said. “They got in there (in the bottom of the 6th inning) and extended the lead. Anytime you’re able to do that that just says something about our girls and the quality ballplayers we have.”
Ozark got on the board in the first after junior Kaycee Dexter hit a triple and scored on a fielder’s choice when Brooke Kroger grounded out. The Lady Tigers were able to score again in the second inning when senior Bailey Click hit a solo shot over the centerfield wall.
Click ended up being a major factor in the third inning. The senior right fielder threw out Hannah Brooks as she tried to score on the sacrifice fly. That ended the Willard Lady Tigers threat, as they had runners on second and third with one out.
With Ozark up 2-0 in the third, the Lady Tigers scored three more, including a two-run RBI double by Click.
Willard (8-13) had several opportunities to score, including runners at second and third with no outs in the top of the sixth. But the Lady Tigers, who are young with only one senior on the roster, could never seem to get a hit when it counted.
That was something Coach AshLeigh Williams was afraid of after her team went 1-4 over the weekend in the Liberty Tournament in Kansas City.
“I told them before the game started they kind of looked like they had a softball hangover a little bit – still kind of in the dumps,” Williams said. “But I think you take away the third and sixth inning, it’s not that bad. Just had some errors in the field, and that can be fixed.”
Williams said their starting left fielder, sophomore Tessa Peterson, was unable to play because of experiencing concussion-like symptoms after colliding with their short stop over the weekend. That put an inexperienced player in right field, which saw a lot of hard hits come her way.
The Willard Lady Tigers will try to regroup as they host Branson Thursday for their last district game of the year.
Ozark will face Glendale at home Wednesday before traveling to Carthage for their final district game.--
Ozark 10, Willard 0
Hits – Ozark 11, Willard 4
Errors – Ozark 2, Willard 6
Willard junior Maddie Reynolds gets ready to take a pitch against Ozark Tuesday night.
Ozark junior Emily Stringer watches a pitch go by Tuesday night against Willard.