Despite a few district upsets, a pair of area softball teams will be in action today when sectional games begin across the state.
Heading into district play, four area teams held No. 1 seeds. But with losses by Notre Dame in the Class 3, District 1 semifinals and Delta in the Class 1, District 1 finals, only Central in Class 4 and Kelly in Class 2 remain.
Central (18-8) survived a pair of one-run district scares to move on to its fourth straight sectional appearance.
"This one actually was a little more exciting than all the other ones," Central coach Amy Blattel said of Monday's 1-0 district championship win over Hillsboro in eight innings.
The Tigers will look to try to end a string of three straight sectional losses when they face Oakville at 6 p.m. today at Jackson.
"I think our kids are starting to realize if we play defense the way we're capable of playing, one run can win a ball game," Blattel said.
Oakville defeated the Tigers 6-0 on Oct. 3 at Central. The Tigers committed four errors in that game.
"We want a rematch," Blattel said.
Central's ace Megan McDonald (12-5) has lived up to her status throughout the district playoffs. McDonald has fanned 20 in two games to bring her season strikeout total to 142.
While the Tigers' pitching has been strong, their hitting through two district games has been fairly quiet. Central had five hits in each game. All 10 playoff hits for the Tigers have been singles. Jamie Lester tops the team with three hits.
Kelly takes easy route
Kelly breezed through its district with a mercy-rule win over East Prairie and a 5-1 win over St. Vincent in the finals. The Hawks are coming off a strong regular season in which they beat Jackson and Central and finished second at the eight-team Jackson Invitational. The Hawks are looking to recapture the success of their 2000 squad, which made it all the way to the state semifinals.
"When you think about it, you win two ball games and you're in the final four," Kelly coach Rhonda Evans said.
Kelly (18-4) will host its sectional game today against Elsberry (17-4) at 2:30 p.m. Elsberry beat the Hawks 2-1 in the sectional round last year at Elsberry.
"It's nice to be able to play on your home field," Evans said. "That will be a little to our advantage."
The Hawks did not allow a hit in district play with pitchers Kelly Essner and Whitney Beggs leading the way. Kelly's offense was no slouch in the districts either. In the championship game the Hawks banged out nine hits after employing the mercy rule against East Prairie in the semifinals.
"The girls have been hitting well," Evans said.
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