North Platte nearly sprung the upset needed to make an unlikely return to a district final.
Seeded No. 6 out of six teams, the Panthers were shut out in a Class 2 District 14 semifinal Saturday, Oct. 7 in Excelsior Springs, Mo. Plattsburg survived for a 1-0 victory with the winning run coming in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly.
North Platte, which lost in the first round of the same tough bracket last year, managed just two baserunners in a tough end to the careers of McKenna Fulton, Gracie Roach, Alley Rickel, Miranda Daniel and Jasmine Wright.
Jordyn Smith, a sophomore, threw a second straight gem for North Platte, allowing just five hits. The run allowed ended up being unearned. With one out in the third and Malia Termini on second, Plattsburg’s Parker Straight hit a fly ball deep to the outfield, and after a lengthy delay getting the ball back to the infield, the runner tagged up and ended up scoring on the play.
North Platte’s chances were limited.
Fulton reached on an error to lead off the game before being doubled off on a line drive. Ryann Smith, a freshman, hit a leadoff single to start the sixth, but she ended up stranded at second.
North Platte finished 10-15 overall after a 2-5 season in KCI Conference play. The seniors were a part of state playoff teams in 2014 and 2015 with Rickel the lone starter from the fourth-place state team during her freshman season.
North Platte 3, Lawson 1
The Panthers upset the No. 3 seed in the opening round behind Jordyn Smith’s power at the plate and prowess in the circle Thursday, Oct. 5 in Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Pushed back a day and moved from Lawson due to weather, the rematch between KCI Conference foes started quickly. Rickel hit a two-out single in the first for North Platte, and Jordyn Smith hit a two-strike home run just over the fence down the left-field line for a 2-0 lead.
Jordyn Smith worked out of a jam in the first inning and ended up only allowing one unearned run in the bottom of the fifth, scattering six hits and four walks while striking out five.
North Platte didn’t have a player with more than one hit but took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth when Jessica Meadows singled and scored on McKenzie Sams’ double. With the lead down to 3-1, the Panthers faced the top of Lawson’s lineup in the seventh, and the Cardinals put two on base with no one out.
The first out came with North Platte catcher Jordyn Goetz throwing out a wayward runner trying to steal third, and Rickel then caught a foul ball at the fence down the third base line for the second out. Lawson’s final batter flew out to center field to finish the game.