COLUMBIA -- Prior to Kelly's Class 2 state softball semifinal matchup with Putnam County at Rainbow Softball Complex on Friday, the seniors made it a point to have a little chat with the rest of the team.
The focus of the conversation was just to stay focused no matter the situation.
"There are six seniors and we all want to get to the state championship game," senior pitcher Whitney Beggs said. "We've been thinking about that since our freshman year."
The team listened.
Kelly posted a come-from-behind 5-2 victory over the defending state champion Midgets to advance to today's 11:30 a.m. championship game against Bishop LeBlond.
Beggs went the distance in the win, but heading into the top of the seventh things were looking a bit bleak for the Hawks.
After struggling against Beggs for much of the first four innings, the Midgets took advantage of an error in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. Putnam County maintained that lead into the seventh inning.
"To be honest, when we usually get in that situation, we are able to hold that lead," Putnam County coach Mike Schmidli said.
But that wasn't the case Friday.
With one out in the seventh inning and Kristin Harper on first base, Summer Proctor singled to put runners on the corners. Brittany Ponder then singled to up the middle to tie the game at 2-2. The next batter, Kelly Essner, doubled to center field, scoring Proctor to give Kelly the lead. And the Hawks weren't done.
Jessica Burnett's sacrifice fly to center field scored Ponder and Rachel Kline's single scored Essner.
Kelly came up with five hits and four runs in the seventh inning barrage that couldn't have come at a better time.
"We did the same thing in the quarterfinals. We were down by two and I just told the girls, 'Hey, you've done this before, there's no reason you can't do it again,'" Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "It was just a matter of timing. Summer got on base and from there we were just on a roll."
Notre Dame falls
COLUMBIA -- Notre Dame wasn't intimidated Friday in its first appearance at the Class 3 state tournament.
But Webb City still hasn't tasted defeat this year.
Webb City posted a 2-1 victory against Notre Dame in a state semifinal game at the Rainbow Sports Complex.
"This is our first trip ever up here, and we didn't know what to expect from Webb City," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "We came up here just wanting to compete."
With Bulldogs pitcher Miranda Schlosser limiting Webb City to eight hits over six innings and one earned run, Notre Dame (22-7) nearly pinned a first loss in 31 games on Webb City.
"Our bats, I don't know, we just left them in Webb City," Cardinals coach Walter Rosa said. "We hit over at Rock Bridge before the game and we hit over here, I'm not sure what happened."
Graviett was wondering the same thing.
The Bulldogs managed just one hit until the fifth inning, when Schlosser led off with a single. Three batters later, Cortney Ostendorf doubled down the left-field line to score courtesy runner Allison Peters.
But Webb City had already scored a single run in the first and another in the fourth, both on RBI hits by Stephanie Ray.
"It's a game of inches," Graviett said. "If we have a few inches here and there and get a few more baserunners, who knows what happens."
Notre Dame will try to get a few more runs today in a 5 p.m. meeting with St. Charles West for third place.
"There aren't too many times the seniors can go out knowing it's their last game," Graviett said, "so we're going to try and win for them."
Notre Dame, however, has just three seniors on the roster, which means this year's first trip to state may not be the school's last.
"I told my kids, get a taste of all this and come back wanting to put in the work and wanting to come back next year," Graviett said.