Three days after Pleasant Hill’s softball season came to an unexpectedly abrupt end, Chicks coach Christy Reeves was still at a loss for words.
Reeves believed Pleasant Hill was playing its best softball of the year as it prepared to take on Smithville on Oct. 14 in a Class 3 state quarterfinal. The Chicks were Missouri River Valley Conference West champions, Class 3 District 14 champions, and had won 10 of 11 games.
That’s what made what happened at Pleasant Hill’s Skyline Softball Field all the more perplexing. Smithville (23-7) scored five runs in the first inning as the Chicks unraveled during an 18-3, six-inning beating.
“I was completely baffled,” Reeves said. “We were conference champs, we were district champs, we were rolling. I think all of us are shocked and hurting right now, because that’s not how we wanted to go out.”
Even more baffling for Reeves was watching Pleasant Hill (20-9) fall apart against a team it beat 5-2 just two weeks before.
During that game the Chicks had their normally solid pitching and defense, but it had neither in a rematch against the Warriors.
Pleasant Hill, which had averaged less than one error per game, committed four errors against Smithville, including one that put the second batter of the game on base.
“We opened up the game on an error and it just went downhill from there,” Reeves said.
That miscue got Smithville’s five-run first inning going. The Warriors had three hits in the frame, including a three-run triple.
Pleasant Hill got one run back in the second on a single by Tori Young and two more in the third on a double by Aspen Younce, a groundout, and a Smithville error.
“We chipped away,” Reeves said. “We had baserunners on every inning, so we were right there trying, knocking at the door.”
Smithville slammed the door shut with three more runs in the fourth and buried the Chicks with a 10-run, six-hit, sixth inning that included two more Pleasant Hill errors.
The Warriors, who advanced to the state tournament for the second straight season and will face Monett (20-10) in the semifinals Oct. 20 at Killian Sports Complex in Springfield, finished with 16 hits — but only seven of the runs scored were earned.
“They were pretty much hitting it to every hole we had,” Reeves said. “They weren’t hitting it to anyone. They were just hitting the gaps, and you can’t do much against that.”
Pleasant Hill reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2014 and was looking for its first state tourney berth since 2003.
“Right now, it’s hurting and it’s raw,” Reeves said. “But it was an amazing season, a wonderful group of girls.”