MONETT, Mo — By the time she arrived at school on Thursday morning, Haidyn Berry was ready to play some softball.
And fast forward eight hours to game time, Berry was just as locked in on the softball field — if not more.
The senior standout put together an overpowering performance in the circle for top-seeded Webb City, tossing a two-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory over fifth-seeded Glendale at North Park.
“I was just ready to win a ballgame,” Berry said. “I was fired up all day and I know the girls were, too. We have worked for this and we have spent hours on the ballfields. It was good to get out here and compete against different teams.
“That’s what we did today, and it was a good day to play softball.”
The Cardinals reached in their fourth straight district title game where they will face McDonald County, a 4-1 winner over Neosho behind Madeline McCall’s no-hitter, at 5 p.m. today. The Cardinals and Mustangs are ranked 1-2 in the state poll, and Webb City won 1-0 earlier this season.
“The girls are ready and we are excited,” Webb City coach Shauna Friend said. “The (district title) is what we have been playing for.”
Two errors in the opening inning allowed Webb City to take a 1-0 lead. Emma Welch got things started on a bunt and then advanced to second base on a throwing error. Welch then tagged up to third after Berry flied out to deep center field,and scored on Alyssa Jennings’ double down the left-field line.
Glendale’s Anna Baker stayed true to her pitch-to-contact approach and followed with three straight zeros on the scoreboard. But in the fifth inning, Peyton Hawkins sparked Webb City’s offense with a single and took second and third after a sacrifice bunt from Welch.
That set up an RBI double from Berry to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
“Peyton is a heads-up player and she sees the field well,” Friend said. “She does a great job baserunning. She has got a lot of speed. That was a great take on her part. And Haidyn did her job and got the RBI.”
Welch gave the Cardinals more breathing room, knocking in two runs with a line-drive single up the middle in the sixth.
And that was plenty of run support for Berry, who retired the last nine batters she faced. The right-hander, who struck out 15 of the 21 batters she faced, found success elevating her fastball when needed and mixing in off-speed pitches that kept the Falcons off-balance and guessing.
“She went out there with a lot of confidence and really dominated,” Friend said. “She did her job.”
Webb City collected 11 hits total off Baker, including three from Hawkins. Berry, Welch, and Sha’lee Key had two hits apiece.
McDonald County 4, Neosho 1
McDonald County’s McCall capped a day full of superb pitching with a career-performance against Neosho.
Despite a fielding error that resulted in a run in the sixth inning, McCall threw a no-hitter on 108 pitches, leading the No. 2 Mustangs past the third-seeded Wildcats and into the district final for a third straight year.
McCall, a right-hander, posted a whopping 17 strikeouts and issued only three walks.
“Madeline was very impressive because you know everybody is going to come out and you will see everybody’s best in a district tournament,” McDonald County coach Heath Alumbaugh said. “We got that from Neosho. To be able to step up in the circle and deliver that kind of outing, it was huge.
“She did what she’s always done. She came out and threw strikes. Attacked the zone, attacked hitters. That’s what she does. That’s her mentality all the time.”
The Mustangs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. McDonald County loaded the bases after McCall, Reagan Myrick and Adasyn Leach reached base via singles.
One out later, Mariana Salas lined a two-run single up the middle.
“That’s something Mariana has done all year and not a lot of people get a ton of production out of their 9-hole,” Alumbaugh said. “We have. We expect that from her ,and we know she can come through in that situation.”
Neosho’s Brittany Winchester settled in over the next few innings, retiring 10 of the next 12 batters she faced. The Wildcats cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth after Lilli Graue reached base on a comebacker that McCall bobbled, and Graue eventually came across to score on a groundout from McKaylie Forrest aided by another error.
But McDonald County answered with some insurance in the bottom half of the sixth. McCall tripled and scored on Myrick’s fielder’s choice. Two batters later, Leach added an RBI single for the 4-1 advantage.
“I thought we came out ready to play,” Alumbaugh said. “We barreled some balls up throughout the game. They made some great defensive plays, but I always felt like we were ready to explode.”
The Mustangs finished with 10 hits and had four players who finished with two-hit games — McCall, Myrick, Leach and Salas.
Neosho (15-8) coach Catie Cummins said the Wildcats didn’t do enough defensively to stick around in the game.
“And we know we aren’t going to score a ton of runs off their pitcher,” Cummins said. “She does a great job. Defensively, we were a little behind. I thought we had some chances to score offensively. We just missed a timely hit.
“As a coach, this has been one of the most fun years. It’s been our best record since I’ve been a head coach. That’s not because of me. That’s because of the girls. They have bought in and we hope to keep that rolling.”
After dropping a 1-0 thriller against Webb City on Oct. 5, Alumbaugh couldn’t be more ready for the rematch today.
“This is the game that we look forward to and I know Coach Friend and the players at Webb look forward to,” Alumbaugh said. “Two great teams going at it. I expect nothing but a great game.”