Cassville aiming for district softball glory
Lady Wildcats earn No. 2 seed in tournament field
No team in southwest Missouri has made as much noise in the softball community as the squad in Cassville.
With a 14-8 overall record, 5-1 in Big 8 Conference, good enough for a second-place finish, the Lady Wildcats roar into Monett on Thursday night with aspirations of reaching the championship game with a win.
"We are playing with as much confidence as we have ever had," said Shawn Johnson, Cassville coach. "Things are coming together like we wanted them to do, and we are playing at a high level."
Cassville has earned the attention of coaches with wins over a state-ranked Republic team and a West Plains squad that is favored to win its district.
What has impressed Johnson more than the wins has been the fact that his team continues to improve its play every time the players take the field.
Johnson said that the Lady Wildcats have not figured out how high their ceiling is, and that is a good problem to have.
"Josie Lone has done a tremendous job for us in the pitcher's circle," Johnson said. "The girls behind her have raised their level of play because they don't want to let her, or the team, down. That makes us a tough team, when we push ourselves more than the opposition."
Lone has been more than serviceable pitching this season. At times, she has been downright unhittable.
In 159.3 innings, Lone has allowed just 32 earned runs for a 1.40 ERA and has struck out 189 batters.
Lone has struck out 10 or more batters in each of her 22 starts, and she has punched out eight or more batters in 16 starts.
The Lady Wildcats are hitting .356 as a team and are led by Laura Turner, .469; Tori Cole, .396; Trinity Ewing, .375; and Lone, .365.
Monett drew the top seed in the Class 3, District 12 tournament. Cassville is No. 2, followed by East Newton, No. 3; Aurora, No. 4; Nevada, No. 5 and Carl Junction, No. 6.
The Lady Cubs and Lady Wildcats received automatic byes into the semifinal round. Tourney play opens today with Aurora and Nevada at 4 p.m., immediately followed by East Newton and Carl Junction.
The winner of the Aurora-Nevada match plays Monett in the first semifinal on Thursday at 4 p.m. Cassville entertains the winner of the East Newton-Carl Junction match at 6 p.m.
The Lady Wildcats did not play Carl Junction this season, but defeated East Newton, 5-0 on Sept. 8.
"The thing for us to remember is to just play our game," Johnson said. "If we play to our potential, I like our chances in every game."
The district championship is slated for Friday at 4:30 p.m.