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North Callaway softball takes sixth in Cairo SB Tourney

by Robby Campbell | September 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
North Callaway shakes hands with Community after falling to the Lady Trojans in the fifth-place game of the Cairo SB Tourney Saturday at Northeast (Cairo) High School in Cairo, Missouri. (Robby Campbell/Fulton Sun)

CAIRO, Mo. -- Out of the three Callaway County schools competing in the Cairo SB Tourney, the North Callaway Ladybirds did the best, taking sixth out of eight teams Saturday at Northeast (Cairo) High School.

Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association Class 2 No. 9 North Callaway lost 9-7 to the host Northeast Lady Bearcats in the opening round, beat its Callaway Cup rival the South Callaway Lady Bulldogs, 9-3 in the consolation bracket and fell 9-7 in eight innings to the Class 1 No. 9 Community Lady Trojans in the fifth-place game.

Beginning with North Callaway's opening round game, the Ladybirds got on the board in the top of the first after Ella Slater hit into a fielder's choice, scoring a run. Northeast (9-1) committed an error, and Faith Cash singled, plating a run.

The Lady Bearcats tied the game in the bottom of the first thanks to an error and a home run to center field by Avery Brumley.

North Callaway (10-5) took the lead in the top of the second. Kymorie Myers singled, scoring one run, to give the Ladybirds the lead, 4-3.

Kylee Dodge singled, which helped Northeast tie the game at 4 in the bottom of the second.

A sacrifice fly by Olivia Knoepflein gave North Callaway the lead, 5-4, in the top of the third.

In the bottom of the third, the Lady Bearcats went back into the lead after Mallori Hankins grounded out, the Ladybirds committed an error, and Jaycee David grounded out, each scoring one run.

North Callaway tied the game in the top of the fourth thanks to a triple by Corynne Miller and a ground out by Slater.

Northeast took the lead in the bottom of the fourth after Brumley singled and Olivia Cross singled, each scoring one run.

Cross earned the win for the Lady Bearcats. She surrendered four hits and seven runs (one earned) over five innings, striking out four and walking five.

Knoepflein took the loss for the Ladybirds. The right-handed pitcher went 1⅔ innings, allowing two runs on two hits, striking out one and walking two.

Lauren Speight opened the game for North Callaway. She gave up six hits and seven runs (four earned) over 2⅓ innings, striking out none and walking one.

Lia Bondurant, Myers, Miller and Cash each collected one hit for the Ladybirds. Myers, Knoepflein, Miller, Cash and Slater each drove in one run for North Callaway.

Miller paced the Ladybirds with two walks. Overall, the team had patience at the plate, tallying five walks for the game.

Brumley and Cross were a force together in the lineup, as they each collected two hits for Northeast.

Brumley drove the middle of the lineup, leading the Lady Bearcats with three RBI. She went 2-for-3 on the day.

"It was a back-to-back fight every inning," North Callaway softball coach Mariah McKee said. "We were gaining them, and they were gaining them too, and we were fighting back and forth. We made a few errors that kind of cost us towards the end of the game. We just couldn't get our bats to get rolling there at the last inning to kind of fight back there.

"But, it was a good effort. We didn't lay down and die, so I'm proud of them there. Lauren did great. She did great in the circle. They can hit, so it's a good team. So anytime we can play with people like that, it's a good day."

Against South Callaway (5-7), Knoepflein collected three hits in four at-bats to lead the Ladybirds' offense. She doubled in the sixth inning, singled in the second inning and singled in the fourth inning.

North Callaway scored seven runs in the sixth inning on the way to victory. Myers was struck by a pitch, driving in a run; Abigail Schmidt singled, scoring two runs; Knoepflein doubled, scoring two runs; and Brianna Prosser singled, scoring two runs.

The Ladybirds got on the board in the second inning after Kendra Pennell doubled, scoring one run.

The Lady Bulldogs scored on a wild pitch, which helped South Callaway tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the second.

North Callaway took the lead in the top of the fifth. An error scored one run to give the Ladybirds the lead, 2-1.

South Callaway captured the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the fifth after McKenzie Laughlin singled and Reagan Arrowood grounded out, each scoring one run.

Knoepflein earned the win for North Callaway. The right-handed pitcher gave up eight hits and three runs over six innings, striking out three and walking four.

Kinslee Rhoades took the loss for the Lady Bulldogs. She went 5⅓ innings, giving up nine runs (three earned) on 11 hits, striking out four and walking two.

The Ladybirds piled up 12 hits in the game. Miller and Slater each collected multiple hits for North Callaway.

The Ladybirds turned one double play in the game.

Kelsey Wetherell and Laughlin were a force together in the lineup, as they collected three hits for South Callaway.

Laughlin and Arrowood were tough to handle back-to-back in the lineup, as each drove in one run for the Lady Bulldogs.

South Callaway turned two double plays in the game.

"We were a little slow waking up there and going from Cairo's pitcher to that," McKee said. "It took us a hot minute to kind of adjust, but we finally adjusted, and then they ended up taking their starting pitcher out and putting Laughlin in. But we still were hitting, but we finally were able to turn it on and get something rolling for us."

It also took North Callaway a while to adjust to Community's pitching in the fifth-place game -- and for the contest to start due to a weather delay.

The Lady Trojans jumped out to a 7-2 lead after 4½ innings, but North Callaway answered by outscoring Community 5-0 between the bottom of the fifth and the seventh inning to send it to extra innings.

The heart of the Ladybirds' lineup provided a spark to get to extras.

In the bottom of the fifth, Meagan Schmidt roped an RBI double to deep left field, then Myers followed by slapping an RBI single up the middle. The Ladybirds trailed 7-4 heading into the sixth.

Pitching her first full inning, Meagan Schmidt kept Community (13-3) off the board and recorded her second and third strikeouts to start and end the top of the sixth.

After the heart of North Callaway's lineup drove in some runs in the fifth, the bottom of its order did so in the sixth.

Getting it done was seven-hole hitter Prosser, who cranked a stand-up RBI double down the right-field line. Her run-scoring two-bagger made it a two-run ballgame heading into the seventh inning.

Meagan Schmidt continued to lock it down in the circle for the Ladybirds, sending the Lady Trojans down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh.

Back came the power bats in North Callaway's lineup in the bottom of the seventh, and they answered.

Myers cut the Ladybirds' deficit to one when she smoked an RBI double past the second baseman and into right field.

Two batters later, Cash evened it at 7 for North Callaway, plating a run on her ground out to second.

North Callaway's resilience at the plate and Meagan Schmidt's stellar relief pitching brought the crazy contest to extra innings. For extras, the offensive team's last batter in the previous inning went to second base to start the frame -- akin to Major League Baseball's extra-inning rules.

Unfortunately for the Ladybirds, Meagan Schmidt couldn't maintain her outstanding outing as she walked a batter and hit the next when the hitter attempted a bunt.

With the bases loaded, Community pitcher Jocelyn Curtis helped herself with a two-RBI single past a diving second baseman and into center field.

Meagan Schmidt walked the next Lady Trojan, but she buckled down and struck out the side afterward.

Throwing the final 3⅓ inning, Meagan Schmidt notched the loss, allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven in 3⅓ innings.

It came down to the bottom of the eighth as to why Meagan Schmidt earned the loss since her teammates couldn't come back.

Madyson Gordon's one-out single to shortstop, where she hustled to beat the throw, was North Callaway's lone hit in the eighth inning.

The game ended after Miller flew out to center field, and Community's center fielder overthrew her first baseman, which led to a Ladybird advancing home and the first baseman throwing it to the catcher, who made the tag for the final out.

Before those game-deciding innings, the Lady Trojans went up 1-0 in the top of the first on Paige Painter's RBI single up the middle. However, North Callaway took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first.

Driving in the first two of her game-high three RBI, Ladybirds No. 3 hitter Myers drilled a double to deep right-center.

Community responded in the next frame, going up 3-2 on Chloe Johnson's lined base hit up the middle and when Lydia Hoyt scored as Rylee Rafferty made it to first base on an error by the shortstop.

The Lady Trojans had their best inning at the plate when they scored four runs in the fifth to take their largest lead at 7-2.

Community scored its first three runs in the fifth when Alyssa Beamer popped a bloop two-RBI single between first base and right field, and Beamer scored during the next at-bat when Johnson reached on an error by the shortstop.

After that play, North Callaway starter Speight gave up a single and was pulled. In 4⅔ innings, Speight punched out three and gave up seven runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks.

Meagan Schmidt took the circle for the Ladybirds, and she allowed Brooklynn Glasgow to smack an RBI single to left field before sending the next hitter packing to end the inning.

North Callaway may have lost, but it had the better offensive game. The Ladybirds outhit Community 14-11 and had four extra-base hits, while the Lady Trojans didn't.

Aside from pitching, fielding was the difference, as North Callaway committed five errors to Community's two.

"We fought, we just couldn't make it happen," McKee said. "There was a few things that just didn't go our way, and it went their way. That's just what happens. You have to be able to control what you can control. We didn't do that the whole time."

North Callaway will face Class 3, tied for No. 2 Hallsville (10-1) at 5 p.m. Monday in Hallsville.

"We got a big week ahead," McKee said. "And hopefully, we can kind of bounce back from some of this and then kind of get diverted back into the right direction here. But yes, we got a tough week ahead."

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