Sept. 30 Softball Power Rankings

Before I go any further, THESE ARE NOT A HEAD-TO-HEAD RANKING, BUT A RANKING OF DOMINANCE BY CLASS. I am not saying I think the Class 1 schools on this list could beat all the Class 4-5 teams ranked below them or not ranked.

NOTE: All stats were submitted prior to Tuesday’s games. 

1. Webb City (C4 – 20-2)
Webb City was No. 1 in the preseason, and the Lady Cardinals have only reinforced their position with a 20-2 overall record. Their only losses this season are to out of area teams Liberty North and Sherwood in tournament action. Haidyn Berry, the reigning COC Player of the Year, appears to be a lock for that honor again. Berry hit two home runs on Tuesday to set the school record with 15 and counting. She had 36 RBI and an OPS of 1.448 entering Tuesday. In the circle, Berry has posted a 17-2 record with a 2.21 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 117 innings. Emma Welch, Emalee Lamar and Peyton Hawkins all also have an OPS above 1.100. That trio also all have between 19 and 22 RBI. Hawkins has scored a team-high 31 runs. Berry, Welch, Lamar and Hawkins have combined for 27 walks against just 20 strikeouts combined this season. That quartet is averaging less than one strikeout per game total. This is a complete team that is a front runner in an extremely tough Class 4.

2. McDonald County (C4 – 17-1)
Speaking of Class 4, McDonald County shares a district with Webb City this year. The Mustangs lost their first game last weekend to the same Sherwood team that handed Webb City one of its two losses. Prior to that, McDonald County opened the season with 16 straight wins. In the circle, Alexa Hopkins and Madeline McCall are the best 1-2 punch in the area and maybe the state. Hopkins is 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. At the plate, Hopkins is hitting .396 with 15 RBI and two home runs. McCall has a 9-1 record with a 1.81 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 73 innings pitched while adding a .340 batting average with three home runs and 22 RBI offensively. Nevaeh Dodson leads the team in hitting with a .483 batting average and 14 RBI. McDonald County has two huge games coming up with Rogersville on Thursday and a trip to Webb City on Oct. 5 where the No. 1 seed in the district will be on the line.

3. Kickapoo (C5 – 12-1)
Kickapoo can absolutely mash. The Lady Chiefs have scored 149 total runs this year including double-digit runs in nine of 13 games. They are averaging 11.5 runs per game. Jaden LaBarge had a four home run game against Rolla on Sept. 22. She leads the team in both home runs (9) and RBI. LaBarge and Ellie Facklam have been stars in the circle as well. Facklam is 7-0 with a 0.83 ERA. Senior outfielder Maggie McKee has three triples this year and has struck out just one time. Kate Pierce has done outstanding work at catcher while being an on-base machine. She leads the team in on-base percentage and doubles while being tied for the team lead in getting hit by pitches. Defense has been key to Kickapoo’s success, and junior shortstop Megan Dancey has set the tone there with a .956 fielding percentage and just two errors on the year. At the plate, she has nearly a .500 on-base percentage. Senior Chloe Merced is also providing power, as she is second on the team in both home runs and RBI. Kickapoo has seven shutouts this season and only allowed more than four runs once in a game. In total, Kickapoo has outscored opponents 149-21 so far this season. The lone loss for Kickapoo came by a 4-2 margin to Lee’s Summit West in the Ozark Tournament. The Chiefs have the Springfield Tournament this weekend. They close the season with a brutal three-game stretch featuring Rogersville on Oct. 8 followed by Columbia Rock Bridge and Webb City on the same day on Oct. 10.

4. Rogersville (C3 – 17-5)
Rogersville was able to stay in Class 3 when the new classifications came out, and the Lady Wildcats appear to be the area’s top team in that class. Four of Rogersville’s five losses came to out of area teams in the Battle Tournament. The other came against Republic last week. Halle Miles and Jenna McKenzie have split time in the circle. Miles has a 9-3 record with 84 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA in 64 innings. McKenzie has thrown 56 innings with a 2.13 ERA and 46 strikeouts. Miles is mashing at the plate with seven home runs and 36 RBI and an incredible 1.549 OPS. Jenna Lane also has an OPS above 1.000 at 1.021 with 17 runs and 13 RBI. Ali Icenhower (20 runs scored and 15 RBI) and Cassidy Coambes (15 runs scored and 19 RBI) also each have double-digit RBI and runs scored. Rogersville will face McDonald County in the Big 8 game of the year on Thursday.

5. Republic (C5 – 6-2)
Republic was a tough team to rank. The Lady Tigers have only played eight games due to missing time due to a COVID-19 quarantine. Their two losses are to Rolla and Willard, but the Lady Tigers also have some very nice wins over Rogersville and Neosho. Ultimately, the Willard loss was the first game for Republic in 15 days, so some rust would be expected. The Lady Tigers are up this high because that win over Rogersville holds a lot of weight and shows what this team is capable of doing. It is a small sample size of just seven games, but AJ Fenske has a .696 batting average and a 2.149 OPS. She has hit four home runs with 15 RBI. She leads the team in OPS, but not in the other two categories. Mara Lakey has six home runs and 17 RBI with a 2.088 OPS. Kaitlyn Ragsdale sets the table well with a .633 on-base percentage and a team-high 14 runs scored. Republic still has a lot of softball left to play before postseason with six conference games and two tournaments on the schedule in the next two weeks.

6. Walnut Grove (C1 – 9-5)
Walnut Grove’s record won’t jump off the page, but the Lady Tigers have established themselves as the area’s top Class 1 team. All but one of their losses is to teams in class 3 or larger. The one in class loss was a 15-5 setback against Neelyville last weekend. The Lady Tigers own key head-to-head wins over both Halfway and Morrisville. That success has Walnut Grove ranked No. 9 in Class 1. Makayla McVay’s return to the circle this year has been a welcome sight for Walnut Grove, as she has posted a 1.82 ERA with 93 strikeouts this season. At the plate, McVay has a 1.065 OPS with 12 RBI. Lauren Johnson has led the team in hitting with a .422 batting average with 12 RBI. Faith Gilkey has chipped in a .313 batting average and .937 OPS. The Tigers still have several key games ahead including a road trip to Weaubleau on Oct. 6.

7. Bolivar (C4 – 8-4)
Bolivar is the second team on this list that has missed significant time due to COVID-19. The Lady Liberators have not played since Sept. 17, but are slated to return to the field this weekend in the Springfield Invitational. Bolivar has the ability to win the state title, but this position in the rankings is more of a commentary on the difficulty of Class 4. Two of the Lady Liberators’ four losses came to Webb City and McDonald County. The Webb City game was close at 2-1. Katie Brooks is the leader of the team as expected. She is 7-1 in the circle with 83 strikeouts and a 0.15 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .085 against her. At the plate, Brooks is hitting .600 with 25 RBI, 19 runs and eight stolen bases. Junior catcher Apryl Zeno has hit .516 on the season. Senior outfielder Emme Hall has brought a .405 batting average with 17 runs scored. Jadyn Hamilton (.344 batting average) and Ashton Lynn (.320 batting average) have also been forces at the plate.

8. Neosho (C4 – 13-5)
Neosho has five losses on the season, but four of them have come against teams ranked higher on this list including Webb City (twice), McDonald County and Republic. Neosho shares Class 4 District 6 with McDonald County and Webb City. Add in 12-5 Glendale, and you have four teams that are currently at least seven games above .500 in Class 4 District 6. Neosho lost 14-4 to Webb City on Tuesday, but the Lady Wildcats proved they can compete with Webb City earlier in the season in a 6-5 loss to the Lady Cardinals. Brittany Winchester has thrown a majority of the innings for Neosho with a 1.76 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 59.2 innings pitched. Winchester, Alivia Campbell and Lilli Graue have been on-base machines with all of them posting on-base percentages above .500. Those three along with Sierra Jones, Kaitlyn Killion and Mckaylie Forrest all have an OPS above 1.000. Killion leads the team in both RBI (23) and runs scored (21). Graue also has scored 20 runs. Neosho looks to be a pretty safe bet to get the No. 3 seed in their district. That means the loser of Thursday’s Webb City-McDonald County game will likely see Neosho in the district semifinals if seeds hold.

9. West Plains (C4 – 13-4)
West Plains makes half of this list Class 4 teams, but that is just how things landed with the new classifications. The four losses for the Zizzers have come to Neosho, Rogersville, Kickapoo and Class 5 Lebanon. They will have a chance to pick up some statement victories this weekend in the Springfield Tournament sharing a pool with Republic, Camdenton and Branson.

10. Ava (C3 – 13-2)
I have had four different teams listed for this last spot in the rankings, but it ultimately goes to Ava. Their 7-4 win yesterday over a Class 5 Lebanon team that has beaten West Plains tipped the scales. Their 13-2 record is one of the best in the area, but what was holding me back was a pair of losses to district foes Cassville and Reeds Spring. Ava dropped the games on the same day back on Sept. 12. Outside of those two games, Ava has outscored opponents 126-21 in their wins, and they have rattled off nine consecutive wins.