Park Hill South softball closes regular season by winning Benton Tournament

Park Hill South surrendered a three-run lead and fell behind in extra innings yet found a way to comeback and win the Benton Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 3 in St. Joseph, Mo. In a straight bracket format, the Panthers scored two shutouts and then two comebacks to take the title at Heritage Park, including a 5-4 win in the title game. St. Joseph Lafayette went ahead 4-3 in the top of the eighth of the finale without a hit, taking advantage of pitcher Olivia Kinsey’s uncharacteristic control problems.

With a runner on second due to the international tiebreaker rule, the leadoff hitter scored on a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch.

Park Hill South plated two unearned runs of its own in the bottom of the inning for the walkoff win. Taylor Johnson scored on a wild pitch and Taylor McCoy came in with the winning run on an error.

Kinsey allowed only three hits but walked five in a complete game. She also struck out 17.

Park Hill South (24-3) took a 1-0 lead on Kinsey’s RBI single in the first and then made it 3-0 in the bottom of the third on RBI singles from Carolyn Stock and Johnson. Despite 13 hits, the Panthers were unable to create a bigger gap, and Lafayette tied the score with three in the fourth on two walks, a single, a wild pitch and a two-run double.

Kinsey then came back to strike out the next three batters, and the tie held until extra innings.

Stock and Gracie Dieleman combined on a three-hitter against Schuyler County in a 5-0 win in the first round, and the duo did the same in an 11-0 shutout of Cameron. Kylie DeClue hit a two-run home run in a three-run first inning against the Dragons and added an RBI double in the fourth. Meghan Church and Georgia Clark also had an RBI double each.

In the semifinal, Park Hill South played Suburban Conference Red Division foe St. Joseph Central and beat the Indians for a third time. Central led 3-0 on three unearned runs against Kinsey after the top of the sixth, but the Panthers tallied six in the bottom of the sixth to earn the win.

DeClue hit a three-run home run with one out to tie the score, and Erika Lutgen and Kinsey followed with walks. RBI singles for Church and Johnson were sandwiched around Stock’s run-scoring sacrifice bunt. Eleven batters came to the plate in the inning.

Park Hill South earned the top seed in the Class 4 District 16 tournament and plays the winner of Oak Park and North Kansas City in a semifinal at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8 at Park Hill High School. The championship game is slated for Friday at 4 p.m.

Park Hill (4-24) lost its final two regular season games and finished Red Division play with a 3-7 record. The Trojans were scheduled to play St. Joseph Central in a first-round matchup Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Park Hill South 15, Ruskin 0; Park Hill South 16, Ruskin 1

The Panthers needed only six innings to sweep a doubleheader Wednesday, Sept. 30 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. and wrap up an unbeaten season in the Suburban Conference Red Division.

Having already wrapped up the league title, Park Hill South left no doubt in the final two games. Stock struck out seven in a perfect game, and the Panthers tallied multiple runs in each of the three innings in the opener. In the bottom of the first, Stock hit a two-run triple two batters after Georgia Clark drove in two with a double.

In the second game, Ruskin actually took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a pair of hits against Dieleman, who ended up earning the win after allowing three hits and a walk in three innings. The lead didn’t last long with Park Hill South scoring 16 runs in the first inning with 10 walks, eight hits and two hit batters.

Playing mostly reserves, the first three batters walked, and Kristen Clevenger followed with a two-run double to make the score 3-0. Stock then hit a two-run home run to right field. After Kobayashi grounded out to first, the next six batters reached via walk or hit batter, and Clark hit a two-run single.

Two batters later, Stock hit a three-run triple to left.