By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Ozark, powered by a five-run third inning and a terrific hitting performance from Samantha Dexter, ousted Webb City 11-2 in the sectional round of the MSHSAA Class 4 softball playoffs on Wednesday.
Dexter had three hits, including a three-run home run, and drove in six runs as the Tigers avenged two losses this season.
Webb City, which beat the Tigers on their field in going unbeaten in the Central Ozark Conference Large Division, finished 23-5 and fell short of a third straight semifinal appearance.
Ozark (25-6) has a home game against Columbia Hickman, an 8-7 winner against Rolla, in a quarterfinal on Saturday.
Said Webb City coach Walter Resa: “It’s difficult to beat a good team three times in a season (the Cardinals nudged the Tigers three times in 2011).
“They (the Tigers) hit the ball (garnering two homers among 14 hits),” Resa said. “They squared it up a few times.
“Some errors didn’t help our cause, either,” Resa said. “You can’t give a team like Ozark extra outs.”
Junior right-hander Abbie Clanton, meanwhile, was in control in the circle for the Tigers. She allowed four hits, struck out seven, walked two and received strong defensive plays from right fielder Bailey Click and shortstop Kaycee Dexter.
Said Ozark coach Yancey Little: “She (Clanton) did a good job pitching inside and moving the ball in and out. She tied up several hitters.
“We tried to be aggressive (on offense),” Little said. “We wanted to swing the bats.
“The girls have been hitting with confidence,” Little said. “They’re driving the ball and hitting with power.”
Ashley O’Brien’s two-run homer capped a three-run second inning. Samantha Dexter delivered a two-run single in the third inning and capped the Ozark hitting display with a three-run homer in the fourth to finish the Tiger scoring.
Webb City made the game go seven innings with a two-run fourth. Kaitlin Beason walked, Desirea Buerge singled, Morgan Lammey advanced the runners with an infield groundout and Samantha Gilstrap scored them with a two-out single.
But Clanton was perfect after Gilstrap. She retired 10 batters in a row to finish the contest.
Joining Samantha Dexter with three hits for the Tigers were Hailee Vigneaux (who doubled twice and had three RBI) and Bailey Elliott. O’Brien had two hits.
A double by Beason and a single by Asia Bemo completed the Webb City hits.
Senior right-hander Kyra Parker, working in relief of junior right-hander Beason, worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the Cardinals.
Amazingly, it’s believed Webb City still holds a 20-3 series advantage.