HIGGINSVILLE — Holden scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, then got a walk-off home run to left-center in the bottom of the seventh from Christina Gochenour to beat Knob Noster 4-3 on Thursday in the semifinal of the Class 2, District 13 softball tournament.
The Lady Panthers took a 3-0 lead before Holden tied it in the sixth with a pair of singles, a ball that carromed off the third-baseman’s glove, an error and a fielder’s choice. Holden nearly took the lead in the inning, but an 8-5-2 putout at the plate retired a runner trying to score and ended the inning.
Holden had runners on in every inning but Knob Noster pitcher Macy Buzzanga got plenty of help from her fielders to hold them without a run through five. Shortstop Jessica Sader snared a line drive with a runner on second in the third. In the fourth, Holden had a runner on third with two out when second baseman Kyndall Eaves grabbed a line drive to end the inning.
“They hit it hard all night and we made some really good plays on them,” said Lady Panthers coach Mark Carey. “Jessica made a lot of plays at shortstop that were very hard hit and some nights it goes like that. This is district softball and sometimes they hit it right at you and that’s what they did (Thursday) until the sixth and seventh inning.”
The game was delayed 30 minutes by lightning and it was immediately after play resumed that the Lady Panthers jumped in front. Before the delay, Knob Noster opened the third with a double down the line off the bat of Kat Cawelti. After she went to third on a wild pitch, Eaves drew a walk and the Lady Panthers had runners at the corners with no one out.
Once play resumed, Makalla Bentley hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Cawelti. In the fourth, Adriane Merseman doubled in Buzzanga. Bentley then scored on a Sader RBI single in the fifth.
“Believe it or not, I think the lightning delay helped us a little bit because Holden’s a big team and everybody opens their eyes when they see them,” Carey said. “For us to have first and third with no out and a 1-0 count on our two-hole hitter, it made us feel pretty good. When we came out, we couldn’t scratch more than one but the confidence was there.”
Knob Noster ends its season 15-9.
“I saw fight, I saw grit,” Carey said. “I saw a bunch of girls that it didn’t matter who we were playing, they were going to play their ball and they most certainly did. They came out and I said ‘you’re going to have to score runs to beat Holden’ and we tried our best.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles