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Hawks end on high note after shutout in semifinal
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The lone senior on the Kelly softball team, Sarah Ruff, had a tough week of practice leading up to the Hawks' Class 2 semifinal game against Palmyra on Friday.
"I was throwing up in the outfield," said Ruff, who missed Monday and Tuesday because she was sick. "And then Wednesday's practice it rained. The week didn't go so hot for me but we looked forward to coming here this weekend and I was just looking forward to it."
Ruff's trip to Columbia matched her sub-par week. The two-year varsity starting center fielder went 0-for-3 at the plate as the Hawks lost to Palmyra 7-0 in the Class 2 state semifinal at the Rainbow Softball Complex, ending all hope of a state title.
But Ruff ended her career on a high note in the Hawks' third-place game against Marion C. Early approximately two hours after losing in the semifinals.
Ruff knew it would be her final high school game and she wanted to enjoy it.
"It kind of got to me that it was my last game and so I just kind of had fun with it and when I did, I hit," Ruff said.
Ruff went 2-for-4 and used one of her outs productively, hitting into a fielder's choice that plated one run in a four-run second inning for Kelly, which went on to beat Marion C. Early 4-1 for third place in the state. The Hawks ended their season 21-7.
Palmyra moves on to the Class 2 championship game, where it will face Westran today.
Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge was happy with the way Ruff battled back in the second game. She said Ruff, her captain, will be missed.
"Being out in the outfield she has contributed a ton," Ratledge said. "She is definitely going to be missed out in center with her speed and also when she gets up to bat. She's determined, like her last time at bat, she was like, 'I'm getting a hit. I don't care.' She knew she was going to get a hit and she's got that determination about her.
"She's an all-around athlete. When she was a freshman, she went to state in cross country and track. You pick it -- there is not a sport Sarah couldn't do."
Ratledge also said she'll miss Ruff's personality.
"Sarah's a talker and she'll tell you exactly what she thinks," Ratledge said. "And that's the way it is."
Ruff hopes to play in college.
The Hawks' pitching and hitting struggled in the first game against Palmyra.
Palmyra starter Taylor Baxter improved to 20-1, giving up one hit and striking out 11 Hawks batters. Ashley Flahardy had Kelly's lone hit.
While Baxter was in control, Kelly starter Jessica Riley struggled, only going two inning. She surrendered two hits and one earned run while walking four.
"I was a little nervous, but just having an off day," Riley said.
Ratledge replaced Riley with Heather Beggs.
"I think that first game she had some nerves and they called an illegal pitch on her and I had to get her out of that first game for sure," Ratledge said.
Beggs also struggled, surrendering six runs -- five earned -- in her four innings of work.
Both Riley and Beggs also combined to pitch the second game against Marion C. Early, only with more success. Riley went four innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits. Beggs pitched the final three frames, allowing no runs on one hit.
"All the nerves were gone in [the second game,]" Riley said. "You always want to get first and it's a disappointment not to go to the championship, but it's all right."