RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Looking to make an early statement, Olivia Kinsey might have tried to do too much from the pitcher’s circle.
Park Hill South’s senior right-hander — committed to the University of Oregon and last year’s Missouri Gatorade player of the year — walked at least one in each of the first five innings, issuing a free pass to Staley’s leadoff batter three times. She went four-plus innings in an uncharacteristically wild performance Monday, Aug. 22 with the defending state champions taking full advantage.
Staley held on for a 10-4 win at Park Hill South High School in a rematch of last year’s Class 4 District 16 championship game. Kinsey finished with nine walks and two wild pitches while striking out just three.
“That’s one thing that we’re fighting,” Park Hill South coach Josh Walker said. “What a great kid, and she’s trying to carry the weight of the whole entire team on her shoulder. We started three freshmen tonight, and she’s trying to make sure she does everything instead of just doing what she can do.”
Staley scored six runs — five earned against Kinsey, who went 17-3 as a junior. Park Hill South allowed more than five runs just once last season during a 13-2 loss to Blue Springs.
Staley struck for a run in the first inning off of a leadoff walk, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and RBI fielder’s choice. Kinsey stranded a pair and seemed to settle down in the second, facing the minimum with a ground ball to second resulting in a double play to erase a one-out walk.
Park Hill South third baseman Georgia Clark then provided a potential breakthrough hit. She golfed a 1-0 pitch from Staley starter Kendra Holt over the left field wall to tie the score at 1-1, and Meggen Keller and Sam Ahrendt followed with singles.
However, a line drive resulted in an inning-ending double play, the second such hard-luck play in two innings.
“We gave them runs and gave them runners,” Walker said, “and we ran into two double plays.”
Staley came back with three in the top of the third to take the lead for good.
Jen Harvey socked the first of her two home runs with a no-doubter to left field to score two, and the Falcons’ lead increased to 7-1 with three more in the fifth. Kinsey stranded three after walking the bases loaded in the fourth, recording back-to-back strikeouts to keep the deficit at 4-1.
In the fifth, she gave up a leadoff single and a walk before exiting during the next at-bat after uncorking a wild pitch.
Jessie Hagen took over and gave up three runs, including an unearned one when she couldn’t handle a ground ball back to the mound with two outs. Kate Kobayashi, a sophomore moving over to shortstop, hit a two-out double to give Park Hill South second and third with no outs in the fifth, but the Panthers managed only one run on Hagen’s sacrifice fly.
Hagen went 2-for-3, while Clark had two hits and two RBIs. Keller, the designated player, added an RBI double in a two-run bottom of the seventh that started with center fielder Chantice Phillips’ second single from the No. 9 spot, both leading to runs scored.
Park Hill South collected 10 hits total.
“We’re talented,” Walker said. “I think we’ve got the pieces in place. We’ve just got to put it together.”
Kobayashi walked to open the bottom of the first but ended up doubled off on Hagen’s line drive to shortstop. Staley doubled Ahrendt off in second to avoid falling behind, and Park Hill South’s final gaffe came in the fourth with the Panthers down 4-1.
Ahrendt and Taylor Johnson took back-to-back one-out walks, but the inning ended one batter later when Staley’s Katelyn Kiser dived to catch a fly ball in right field. She threw to second for a double play when the umpire ruled Ahrendt left the bag too early while trying to tag up.
Staley immediately came up with another big inning, and Harvey hit a three-run home run in the top of the seventh to put the Falcons up 10-2.