What a way to end a season. The Cassville Ladycat (13-15) softball team took second place in the district tournament on Saturday. In the championship game, the team, seeded fifth in the tournament, fell to Aurora in 11 innings after a hard-fought battle.
On Thursday, it was the opening of the tournament and the Ladycats took on fourth-seeded Branson. If you can remember, Branson defeated the Ladycats 8-0 in the regular season, but it was a different story Thursday night. Cassville downed Branson by a final score of 7-6.
Julie Cupps, Jessie Gripka, Carrie Forsythe and Jodi Woolhiser led from the plate with two hits each. Gripka batted in a run and Woolhiser was credited with a triple and two RBIs. Carla Gautney and Juli Yarnall both had one hit apiece.
Pitching wise, Gautney went five and a third innings, giving up three runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Brittany Vollenweider relieved, giving up three runs on two hits with three strikeouts, to preserve the win.
"We jumped out to an early 5-0 lead," said Coach Bonnie Cox. "The game ended when first baseman, Brittany Vollenweider snared a line drive to her right and doubled off the would-be tying run at first."
With the win, the Ladycats advanced to take on first-seeded Reeds Spring on Friday. In the regular season, Reeds Spring defeated Cassville 2-1, but in districts, the Ladycats came out on top 5-4.
Cupps had one hit and one run, Gripka had one hit and one run and Gautney had three hits and one RBI. Forsythe, Brittany Taylor and Yarnall had one hit each.
Pitching was powered by Gautney who went a complete game, giving up four runs on six hits and eight strikeouts.
"This was a great win for the Ladycat softball program," said Cox. "It avenged a 2-1 loss to Reeds Spring in eight innings at their place on Sept. 22, and Carla pulled us to the district championship game for the first time ever.
"This was a great effort by all," continued Cox. "It was a total team effort to upset the number one seed and advance to the championship game."
For the district championship, Cassville was pitted against third-seeded Aurora who defeated second-seeded Monett on Thursday. It took 11 innings before Aurora scored one run and won the game 7-6.
Cassville had a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the third. Aurora picked up two runs to retake the advantage before the Ladycats scored three runs in the top of the fifth to go ahead 6-4. It looked as if Cassville would hold onto the win until the seventh when the Lady Houn' Dawgs scored two unearned runs to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
Neither team scored in the eighth, ninth or 10th innings. Cassville stranded runners at second and third in the top of the 11th, and then Aurora managed to get a hit. That runner eventually scored the winning run on an infield hit.
Cupps again led offensively for the Ladycats with three hits and three runs. Gripka had two hits while Woolhiser had one hit and two runs and Gautney had three hits and two RBIs.
Gautney and Vollenweider shared pitching duties. Gautney went 10 and two-thirds innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits and three strikeouts. Vollenweider went one-third inning and gave up no hits.
"I am very proud of our entire team," said Cox. "We overcame a lot of adversity through the season. In the end, we came together as a team. Although it is disappointing to come so close to a district championship, we still accomplished something no other Ladycat softball team has done and that was reaching the championship game.
"We are saying goodbye to eight seniors who gave their all in this tournament," Cox continued. "I am very proud of all of our players. We look forward to next year as we return five juniors and some talented sophomores and freshmen."