Platte County High School pitcher Mallory Stoner is a tough-as-nails kind of player. That came in handy when the Pirates found themselves in a nail biter on Friday.
Stoner hit a two-run home run in the first inning, then wriggled out of a couple of jams on the pitching mound in the Pirates’ 2-1 victory over Monett in a Class 3 semifinal at the Missouri softball state tournament at the Killian Sports Complex.
Platte County, 25-6, will play DeSoto, 23-6, at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the championship game — largely because of Stoner.
“She was it,” Platte County coach Rob Davenport said. “She was all of our runs and she was in the circle doing her job.”
After Jessie Hoover’s leadoff single, Stoner clubbed her first home run of the season over the left-field fence. That would be it against Monett starting pitcher Allie Kruger, who retired 12 straight at one point and kept Platte County from getting another hit until the sixth inning.
While Kruger was a mowing down Platte County batters, Monett was taking advantage of some shaky defense to make things uncomfortable for Stoner.
But not too uncomfortable.
“Those are my favorite (situations), honestly, because I think I do well under pressure,” Stoner said. “I don’t get nervous when people get on base.”
Stoner was able to hold Monett to one run after the Cubs loaded the bases with one out on a hit, a walk and the first of three Platte County throwing errors. Monett failed to score again after getting two base runners in the fourth inning.
But Stoner saved her biggest escape act for the sixth inning, when another error and a dribbler that just rolled past her glove put two runners on base with none out. Stoner struck out the next two batters, and a snap throw from catcher Lexi Hanson erased the runner at second base to end the threat.
“They did a good job of getting base runners on, and we did a good job of getting out of jams,” Davenport said. “We’re going to have to clean up our defense a little bit because some of that was self-inflicted.”
Davenport chalked up some of that to playoff jitters, because none of the Platte County players had ever advanced past the district playoffs. Platte County will play on Saturday for its first softball state title since 2008.
“It’s a new experience for them,” Davenport said, “So hopefully they got one under their belt and they can settle down and play a little more relaxed tomorrow.”
Class 4: Tigers advance
Lee’s Summit will get the chance to play for a second straight state title after defeating Jefferson City 7-0 on Friday in a Class 4 semifinal.
Lee’s Summit, 25-6, leaned on its winning formula of overpowering offense, airtight defense and shutdown pitching from Emily Robinson. It all proved too much for Jefferson City, which struggled to cobble together five hits. Lee’s Summit, meanwhile, tallied 11 hits and just calmly went about its business.
“We were a little bit nervous, but we were relaxed and focused at the same time,” said Robinson, who held the Jays to three hits over five innings. “We weren’t too relaxed, and we weren’t too focused playing tight. We had a happy medium.”
Robinson’s two-run homer accounted for two of the Tigers’ three runs in the third inning. Alexis Reed made it 3-0 with the first of her three doubles.
Robinson’s double in the fourth inning drove in two runs, and Tigers tacked on two more runs in the fifth.
“I told the kids after the game that Emily Robinson was our hero today, no question,” Lee’s Summit coach Tracy Bertoncin said. “Alexis Reed was a close second.”
Lee’s Summit will play Holt, 26-5, at noon on Saturday in the Class 4 title game.
Class 2: North Platte fourth
North Platte finished fourth in Class 2 after falling to Portageville 3-2 in 11 innings in the third-place game.
North Platte, 27-3, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Regan Nash singled and scored on Kaycee Hogdson’s sacrifice fly. Portageville tied it with a run in the fourth and won it with two runs in the top of the 11th on three hits and an error.
North Platte’s Victoria Haugsness pitched all 11 innings and struck out 13.