No regrets for Cassville's softball season
Lady Wildcats feel close to becoming elite team
When asked about his team's performance in the district title game against Monett, Cassville Coach Shawn Johnson did not hesitate with his reply.
"We have no regrets about the way we played," Johnson said. "We never quit, gave ourselves a chance to win and left everything we had effort wise on the field."
The Lady Wildcats (15-9) rolled into the Class 3, District 12 tournament at Monett as one of the hottest teams in the area.
Cassville rolled Carl Junction, 11-0, in the semifinal to set up the championship tilt against Monett.
Earlier in the season, the Lady Cubs routed the Lady Wildcats, 11-1, and Cassville was eager to show it was an improved team.
Monett put up single tallies in the first two innings before the Lady Wildcats sliced the lead in half, 2-1, in the top of the third, using a Kassie Graves lead-off double and sacrifice fly by Kaylee Reibert.
Monett tacked on another run in the fourth to claim a 3-1 lead.
Cassville came to bat in the fifth frame and went to work.
Ashley Ray, Reibert and Audra Brooks singled to load the bases with one out.
Josie Lone then scorched a double down the third base line to clear the bases and send the Wildcats fans into near euphoria.
Lone reached third on an error and then scored on a sacrifice by Trinity Ewing to give the team a 5-3 lead.
"That rally showed me that the girls were giving everything they had," Johnson said. "We were a little nervous, but instead of folding, we chose to fight. That was something that in the past was a little lacking, but shows how much we have grown over the last couple of years."
Monett answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, then won the game in the seventh with back-to-back doubles.
"It wasn't the outcome we wanted," Johnson said. "But, we showed that we only have minor things to fix this offseason and not a major program overhaul."
The Lady Wildcats will graduate four seniors off this year's team in Raegan Brock, Tori Cole, Kassie Graves and Ashley Ray.
"What we are losing is invaluable leadership," Johnson said. "Those girls helped get us to where I thought we should be [competing for a district title] this season and set the stage for a big year next season."
Johnson said the team will be more detail focused in the offseason and only need to make small adjustments to their play.
"The girls saw what it took to get to the championship," Johnson said. "Now, we are focused on winning it."