(Photos by Josh Mills, Staff)
BALLWIN - The Kelly Lady Hawks softball team advanced to the Missouri State Class 2 semifinals, by defeating the Principia Lady Panthers on Saturday afternoon in Ballwin by a score of 2-0.
"I wanted this win for our girls," Kelly head coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "It's a great experience to go to the state playoffs. I'm glad these girls are getting the chance."
The game was a defensive battle and a pitchers dual until the sixth inning, when the Lady Hawks got things started with a single from their lone senior Sarah Ruff. Ruff was advanced on a Katee Moore sacrifice bunt, and would later score on a single by Casey Kern.
Kern's single was followed by Brittany Brantley's single to centerfield, and after Heather Beggs laid down a bunt single, Kern scored on a single to right field from Ashley Flahardy.
Beggs also helped her own cause at the dish, picking up the bunt single in the sixth-inning rally.
Casey Kern was the leading hitter for the Lady Hawks, going 2-for-3, with a single, a double, a run scored and an RBI. Brittney Brantley was 2-for-3, with two singles, and Ashley Flahardy was also 2-for-3, with a single, a double and an RBI.
Grace Bonwich took the loss for the Lady Panthers, allowing the two runs, on 10 hits, no walks and had five strikeouts.
Principia's three hits came off the bats of Devon Harrison, Alyssa Cheatham and Bekah Charleston. They each had one single apiece.
"We had some nerves in the beginning," Ratledge said. "We had some errors that shouldn't have happened, but we started hitting in the fifth inning. Now we get to play again on Friday."
The Lady Hawks will travel to Columbia for the state semifinal game on Friday. The game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Rainbow Softball Center. A win on Friday will secure a spot in the state championship game on Saturday at noon. The third place game is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Kelly (20-6) will play the winner of the game between Blair Oaks (19-6) and Palmyra (23-2). The game was rained out on Saturday and is to be played on Monday afternoon.