Platte County softball reaches Class 3 title game, finishes 2nd

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County pitcher Mallory Stoner claps her hands as she rounds second base following her two-run home run in the top of the first inning against Monett in a Class 3 state semifinal matchup at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield, Mo. Platte County went on to win 2-1, reaching the state championship game for the first time since winning the title in 2008. SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Platte County’s seniors suffered through an agonizing wait to make their first trip to the Missouri State Softball Championships semifinals. The Pirates made it back this season, but the wait for the program’s second state title will have to wait after a 3-0 loss to De Soto in Oct. 25’s Class 3 title game at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield, Mo. The Pirates mustered just one hit and three total base runners in the loss.

Platte County made it back to state after a recent stint in Class 4 that included a playoff berth but no advancement. The Pirates hope they’ve started a run similar to 2007-2009, which included finishes for fourth, first and third.

But for the players on a roster that included only three seniors, there was no immediate consolation in the runner-up finish despite a promising future.

“It kind of stunk,” said Platte County sophomore designated player Brittney Whitt, who collected the Pirates only hit. “We were all hoping to get first. I think we’re all glad we got this far in the tournament. We’re pretty happy and pretty sad at the same time. It’s a love-hate relationship.”

Whitt’s lone hit, a hard smash down the right-field line in the third inning, gave the Pirates their second base runner against DeSoto ace Courtney Krodinger. Ashley Hopper sacrificed Whitt to second, and she advanced to third on a groundout from Courtney Seymour.

Senior shortstop Jessie Hoover flied out to center field to end the threat.

Hoover was Platte County’s first runner after she reached on a dropped fly ball to right field to lead off the first. Lindsey Bogart could not get her sacrifice bunt attempt down and popped out to third base. A hit-and-run attempt with pitcher Mallory Stoner ended on a soft liner to shortstop Brittney Krodinger, who easily doubled off Hoover.

Courtney Krodinger gave up just the one hit and one walk — a one-out free pass in the bottom of the sixth with the Dragons leading 2-0. The ball only left the infield six times — four flyouts, the error and Whitt’s hit.

“It was a tough game from top to bottom,” said Stoner, Platte County’s starting pitcher in all four playoff games. “We knew that it was going to be tough and tight, and it would come down to the little things we could do. We fought our hardest and that’s all that matters. We couldn’t string our hits together. We had good approaches at the plate and we fought to the end.”

De Soto (24-6) took the lead for good in the top of the fourth inning after working out of the threat in the previous frame.

Courtney Krodinger doubled to center field to lead off, and Bethany Canada followed with a grounder to third. An error allowed Canada to reach, and Courtney Krodinger, a University of Northern Iowa commit, to scamper to third.

After a groundout, Michaela Badger lined a 1-2 pitch to center for a single – one pitch after checking her swing to avoid a strikeout. Courtney Krodinger scored, and Badger was thrown out at second trying to advance. Canada scored after the throw went to the bag to make it 2-0.

De Soto added an insurance run in the top of the seventh.

“They’re just two good pitchers,” Platte County coach Davenport said of the matchup. “Both sides pitched well. Batters struggled. We put some good swings on the ball; we just hit it at people. That’s just what’s going to happen when you have two good pitchers at the end of the season.”

Platte County (25-7) reached the title game after a clutch performance from Stoner during the Oct. 24 semifinal. She struck out nine and hit a two-run home run in a 2-1 victory against Monett, a rematch of a regular season matchup during the Carthage Tournament.

Stoner, Platte County’s junior ace, immediately faced pressure when Monett’s first two batters reached in the top of the first. She pitched around the runners with a strikeout and two easy fly balls.

“It’s my favorite thing,” Stoner said. “I think I do better under pressure. I don’t get nervous when people get on base.”

After the scare, Stoner wasted little time giving Platte County a cushion. Her deep drive with one out against the Cubs (26-4) in the bottom of the inning proved to be the winning runs. Her first home run of the season cleared the left-field fence near the foul pole and sent her happily skipping around the bases.

The blast scored Hoover, who led off the bottom of the first with a single.