Smithville's big inning sinks Platte County softball in district title game

  ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County outfielder Ashley Hopper (10) crosses the plate while Smithville pitcher Lexie Duncan displays the ball to the home plate umpire Bob Power who signals safe in the Class 3 District 15 championship game on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Platte County High School.  Platte County’s Lauren Magee (12) jumps up in excitement.

Platte County started out looking for a tying run, got more than expected but ended up missing out on even more.

In the Class 3 District 15 championship game, the Pirates took a one-run lead after scoring a pair in the top of the fifth, but they left runners at second third. Smithville answered back immediately Saturday, Oct. 10 at Platte County High School with a four-run fifth for the final runs in a 5-2 victory.

“You need one more key hit and that scores two more right there,” Platte County coach Rob Davenport said. “We didn’t have a bad at-bat, just that time the pitcher won.”

Platte County came in to the tournament as the No. 3 seed and used two blowouts to receive a shot to advance to the playoffs for a second straight season.

In the definition of an up-and-down season, the Pirates finished at 18-12 and did not win more than four in a row — one season after riding a wave of momentum to the Class 3 state championship game. Davenport tinkered with his lineup throughout the season, and splitting time between senior pitchers Mallory Stoner and Linley Weicken started producing results late in the season, including a 6-3 win against Class 4 playoff qualifier Staley.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County catcher Anna Townsend makes a throw to first base while senior pitcher Mallory Stoner looks on during the Class 3 District 15 softball championship game on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Platte County High School. The Pirates’ season came to an end with a 5-2 loss to Smithville.

Despite a rigorous schedule, Platte County ended up second in the Suburban Conference Blue Division standings and carved out another winning season behind six seniors — all major contributors. The Pirates just couldn’t quite recapture last year’s championship formula.

“I think we played really good ball at the end of the season. We found it,” Davenport said. “When you get to this part of the season, sometimes it just a little luck, and we know that from last year. Today, they had a little bit of luck on their side.”

Stoner, an all-state performer as a junior, started and kept Platte County within one run after four innings, Smithville’s lone tally on Lexie Duncan’s solo home run to right field in the bottom of the first. The Pirates’ finally found an opening in the fifth when Duncan — Smithville’s senior ace — hit Ashley Hopper to start the inning.

Davenport then opted to have Tori Farr bunt, and the strategy produced more after the Warriors committed a throwing error. Hopper scored on a wild pitch despite a close play at the plate, and Lauren Magee singled home Farr with a bloop over a drawn-in infield.

Smithville came right back with a leadoff single against Stoner and then the bounces started to spell doom for the Pirates.

Back-to-back bunts produced singles, one when the ball struck the bat in the field of play. The umpires huddled and determined the call was correct to allow Katie Bean to reach first and load the bases.

“It’s the right call,” Davenport said. “It’s just bad luck.”

Danielle White followed with a two-run double slapped hard into left-center field, and after a wlak, Jenna Everman’s sacrifice fly to left and Skylar Woods’ single up the middle increased the lead to 5-2. With just six outs left, Platte County couldn’t come up with the runners needed to produce the runs required to continue on back to the playoffs.

“We never gave up — ever,” Stoner said. “Sometimes there’s just that one inning, and you just do everything you can to stop it. Eventually, we did, but it was too late.”

The result brought a tough conclusion to the careers of the six seniors, instrumental to so much success including last year’s state runner-up finish. Stoner finished with four strikeouts, nine hits and a walk in her seven innings of work.

“Most of them have worn a varsity jersey since they were freshmen,” Davenport said, “so they’ve been with us for a long time, and over a four-year period, they’ve had a lot of success. I told them our coaching staff is proud of them; their parents are proud of them; our school and our community are proud of them because they’ve worn that Pirate jersey with pride.”

Platte County 12, Richmond 1

The Pirates rocked the No. 2 seed to earn a six-inning win in a semifinal Thursday, Oct. 8 at Platte County High School.

Stoner did much of the work with three RBIs on a first inning double and fourth inning triple. She also earned the win, allowing only one run on five hits and one walk.

Platte County finished with 14 hits and plated runs in five of six innings. The Pirates were up 4-0 after the top of the first and added four more in the sixth to invoke the run rule.

After Stoner’s RBI double in the first, Ashley Hopper drove her in with a single, and catcher Anna Townsend followed with a two-run triple. Townsend drove in one with a single, and Hopper added a two-run single in the sixth.

Platte County 15, O’Hara 0

The Pirates needed just three innings to win their district opener Wednesday, Oct. 7 at Platte County High School.

Lindsey Bogart went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. Only 10 of Platte County’s runs were earned with Celtics starter Mary Byrne walking nine with three errors committed behind her. Platte County scored 10 in the first and five in the third.

Other games

Platte County 11, Belton 6

In the regular season finale, Platte County avenged a prior loss and locked up second in the Suburban Blue Division on Tuesday, Oct. 6 in Belton, Mo. Platte County went 8-2 in league play, finishing one game back of Kearney.

Platte County never trailed in the third game of the season against Belton, taking an 11-4 lead with two runs in the top of the sixth and four more in the seventh.

Lou Menninger put Platte County ahead 1-0 with an RBI single in the first, part of her three-hit day. Menninger doubled once, scored twice and drove in two runs, including an RBI single in the seventh.

Stoner hit a two-run double in the fourth, and Townsend went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Belton won the first Blue Division matchup with Platte County and won a non-league match between the two three days earlier at the Carthage Invitational.