TRENTON, Mo. — After losing Tuesday's opener at North Central Missouri 5-1, the Lady Raiders needed to win the final game of the regular season to have a chance at the top seed in the Region XVI tournament. Backs against the wall, do or die, and all the other cliches staring them in the face, the Lady Raiders scored 11 runs in the first inning and thumped North Central 14-2 in five innings. "It was pretty wild. Then we kind of cruised from there," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. But that wasn't enough. With Three Rivers, Jefferson and Crowder all finishing 19-5 in the region, the Lady Raiders' win bumped Crowder to the No. 3 seed, but the top seed had to be settled by the fourth tiebreaker, a coin flip. As the Lady Raiders were on the way home, Null got on a video call for the coin flip. Jefferson coach Tony Cook called heads, which Null said he also would have called, and the flip came up tails. Null hollered to the rest of the bus that they won the flip and the Lady Raiders went crazy. It wasn't until midnight, about 90 minutes away from Poplar Bluff, that they started to settle down. "It's pretty awesome," Null said. "I didn't know how it was going to turn out in the end." Three Rivers gets a first-round bye and will play the winner of No. 4 Maple Woods and No. 5 North Central in the semifinals of the double elimination tournament. Three Rivers batted around before North Central got an out. The first 13 batters reached base, with the only blemish being a fielder's choice on No. 2 hitter Kristyn Carpenter's second at bat. Kira Cunningham had a bases loaded triple. Allison Pingel had a two-run double. Carpenter drove in a run in each of her at bats. She and Gracie King scored twice. Scruggs and Carpenter stole a base. Three Rivers (38-13, 19-5 Region XVI) drew four walks and King was hit by a pitch. North Central also committed two errors. After Pingel's two-run double on the 13th at bat of the inning, North Central got a popup and a strikeout to finally get out of the of the first inning.
And so Macy Rogers took the circle with an 11 run cushion that she didn't really need. Rogers (10-2) allowed four hits and a hit batter with four strikeouts over four innings. "Macy threw really well," Null said. "We hit the ball and overcame. Barely did what we needed to do." She gave up a two-run single in the first inning and stranded two in the third while retiring the side in the second and fourth innings. Carleigh Burnett pitched the fifth and allowed one hit with one strikeout. Carpenter had a solo home run to start the third inning for her third run of the game and eighth home run of the season. North Central then walked the bases full. King scored on an error by the catcher and Pingel scored on Sophie Wunderlich's Sacrifice fly to put the Lady Raiders ahead 14-2. Three Rivers drew seven walks and needed just eight hits to score its 14 runs. In the opener, Three Rivers stranded six through five innings before Kirstien Loman ended the shutout when she tripled and scored on Scruggs' single. Three Rivers had the bases loaded with nobody out in the second inning of a then scoreless game and bunted into a pair of fielder's choices at home, then stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout. North Central (34-15, 8-14) scored on an error when it had the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning and added two more runs in the third and fifth innings. Summer Shockley (22-6) allowed four hits, four walks and a hit batter with four strikeouts over five innings. Kari Hatridge pitched the fifth and allowed a walk and a hit with no strikeouts. Three Rivers had six hits to North Central's five and both teams stranded seven runners.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic