(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
BENTON -- Win or lose, the results of an entire seasons worth of work by the Kelly Lady Hawks all boils down to this weekend in Springfield.
That's where, after last Saturday's 13-2 win over the Hartville Lady Eagles in the Class 2 quarterfinals, the Lady Hawks will take part in the Class 2 State Tournament semifinals Friday at 2 p.m.
"We're excited to be there," Kelly coach Melanie Heuring said. "A lot of people maybe didn't expect us to be this successful this year. The girls have done a good job and they're happy to be going to the final four."
Taking place at the Killian Softball Complex, the Lady Hawks will open up against the Warsaw Lady Wildcats who have yet to allow a run through four postseason games.
"They don't allow a lot of runs," said Heuring. "Their pitcher is really good and they have a solid defense behind her. So we'll have to go up there with our 'A' game."
Luckily for Kelly, they will enter the contest coming off one there best offensive games the entire year.
In putting up 13 runs against the Lady Eagles, the Lady Hawks easily out-paced the combined 9 runs they had scored their previous three contest combined, all while holding Hartville to two runs after the Lady Eagles had lit up Dixon for 11 in sectionals.
"(Hartville) pounced early and scored two runs that first inning," Heuring said of the Hartville game. "But we came back and scored two (in the bottom of the first) and then scored seven in the second.
"Our girls hit, put the ball in play and scored a lot runs. We haven't done that in a long time."
As they have pretty much all year, the Lady Hawks will once again turn to ace pitcher Kristen Powell to keep there championship dreams alive. Through two district and two state tournament contests, Powell had allowed an average of two runs per game.
How Kelly does against the Lady Wildcats will determine what they are playing for next. With a win, they will move on to face the winner of the Palmyra/Brookfield game Saturday at 4 p.m.
A loss to the Lady Wildcats, however, will see Kelly playing in the 3rd place game later Friday night at 6:15 p.m.
Not used to having a full week between games, Heuring sees the extra time as a positive in getting ready for the biggest game of her team's season.
"It's kind of good to regroup and have a few days of practice and to let all this soak in that we're actually going," she said. "I don't think it hurts us at all. It kind of gets you prepared for the next team."