South softball hot to start, settles for 4th in Joplin tournament

Park Hill South’s season started with an impressive run, but the Panthers ended up fourth in the Joplin Invitational over the weekend.

In three pool play games Friday, Aug. 25, Park Hill South outscored its three opponents 45-0, but the Panthers lost a semifinal to Rock Bridge and the third-place game to Staley on Saturday, Aug. 26. They went 3-2 despite scoring 58 runs in their first five games of the season.

Opening against Joplin, Park Hill South scored 14 runs on just seven hits. Eight of the runs were unearned in the 14-0, six-inning win with the Panthers totaling at least one run in five of six innings.

Sam Ahrendt hit a two-run single in a three-run first, while Jessie Hagen put Park Hill South up 6-0 with a two-run, two-out double in the fourth. Meggen Keller, who went 2-for-2 with a walk and three runs scored added a two-run double in the sixth and finished with three RBIs.

Taylor Johnson, Park Hill South’s lone senior, pitched and walked six but allowed just two hits.

Against Carl Junction, Park Hill South scored nine runs in the top of the fifth to complete a 19-0 victory that featured 12 hits. Panthers starter Gracie Dieleman allowed just one hit in a complete game, working out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth after starting with four perfect innings.

Park Hill South took the lead with three runs in the second, including an RBI double for junior Kate Kobayashi. Johnson and Kristen Clevenger had run-scoring doubles in the third, and the Panthers batted around in both the fourth and the third.

Chantice Phillips had a two-run single in a five-run fourth for Park Hill South, which sent 24 batters to the plate in the final two innings.

Park Hill South completed its run through pool play with a 12-0 win over Nevada, pounding out 14 hits in four innings. Phillips had an RBI double to score Kobayashi in the first and a two-run home runin a six-run second that also included back-to-back RBI doubles for Kobayashi and Hagen and a double for Keller.

Ahrendt drove in Keller with a single and scored on Emma Beuerlein’s single to finish a six-run rally all with two outs.

Hagen became the third pitcher to complete a shutout, allowing just three hits in four innings with no walks and no strikeouts. The three pitchers combined to allow nine runs in the semifinal loss to Rock Bridge the next day.

Rock Bridge led 5-0 after the top of the second, plating four off of Hagen as the starter and another off of Dieleman in relief. Dieleman also allowed four in 4 1/3 innings before Johnson pitched the seventh.

Park Hill South came back to tie it at 5-5 with two runs in the third and three in the bottom of the fifth. Clevenger capped the second rally with a two-run single to score Hagen and Keller, who reached with atwo-out double.

Rock Bridge answered with three in the sixth and added the final run in the seventh for the final margin.

Previously scheduled to open the season against Staley, Park Hill South met up with the Falcons in the third-place game after rain forced the postponement of a non-tournament matchup earlier in the week. All three pitchers again appeared for the Panthers with each allowing at least three runs in a 13-8 loss.

Park Hill South took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after Dieleman worked around two runners in the top of the inning. Staley then plated four unearned in the second to take the lead for good, and the Falcons scored in the fifth, sixth and seventh, including a pair of solo home runs for Alyssa Ramirez, to expand the lead.

Down 10-2 going to the bottom of the fifth, Park Hill South closed the gap on Keller’s two-run double to score Hagen and Phillips. Staley then went ahead 12-4 with two in the top of the sixth before the Panthers’ mounted their final rally with four in the bottom of the frame, stranding two in scoring position while down 12-8.

Ramirez hit her second home run in the seventh, and Staley worked around one runner in the seventh to hold on for the win.


Liberty 5, Park Hill South 3

The Blue Jays scored four in the bottom of the fifth for a comeback Suburban Conference Red Division victory Monday, Aug. 28 in Liberty, Mo.

Park Hill South led 3-1 after plating three runs in the top of the third of their league opener. The Panthers loaded the bases with Kobayashi’s single, but two strikeouts put Liberty North on the brink of escaping the jam.

Instead, Keller hit a three-run double to center field on a full count.

Dieleman started and went all six innings but gave up four of her eight hits and one of her two walks in the fifth. Liberty North added an unearned run on a costly error.

Park Hill South, which dropped to 3-3 with the loss, managed just one runner in the final two innings. The Panthers missed a chance to jump ahead in the top of the first when Kobayashi ended up stranded at third after a leadoff triple.