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Kelly stops Early's late threat, reaches Class 2 final
ST. JOSEPH -- Kelly pitcher Danielle Dock learned Friday that the final out in a state tournament game is the most difficult one to record.
Dock brought a two-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning of a Class 2 semifinal game against Marion C. Early.
She quickly retired the first two batters. But then things got interesting.
An error by third baseman Haley Glastetter and two walks by Dock loaded the bases.
The next hitter, Stephanie Beavers, lined a shot back to the mound. It deflected off Dock's glove, but the right-handed hurler recovered. She located the ball, picked it up and fired to first for the final out of the contest.
Dock tossed a complete game, giving up one earned run on four hits and four walks to help Kelly beat Marion C. Early 3-1 at Heritage Park.
Kelly advanced to play Palmyra at 1 p.m. today in the Class 2 championship game.
Palmyra, which beat Mid-Buchanan 10-0 in the other semifinal, is the two-time defending state champion in Class 2.
"I just got it together and started focusing more," Dock said about the bases-loaded situation in the seventh. "I've been practicing on focusing more.
"I'm confident with my throwing, but mostly confident with my defense behind me in getting out of those innings."
Dock struggled a little throwing the changeup, but she threw mostly fastballs in the seventh.
Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge visited the mound in the seventh to have a discussion with Dock and her infielders. She told them to calm down.
But Ratledge was not too calm herself.
"Oh, my gosh," Ratledge said. "Two quick outs, and as a coach you're sitting there saying, 'Hey, we've got this in the bag.' [Then], 'Holy crap, we've got bases loaded. Oh, no.' So yeah, then it made it a little nerve-racking. I've always known my girls to give their audience a good game. So I guess that's what they were trying to do."
Kelly took a lead in the second inning.
Dock singled to start the inning. With one out, Brantley doubled off starting pitcher Bailey Williams, who Kelly faced in last year's third-place game.
"It was really nice to be able to come out and get on top and start the game with a hit," Brantley said. "[Williams] probably just had nerves, and we took advantage."
Jessica Riley had a successful squeeze later in the inning to give her team a 2-0 lead.
Marion C. Early made it 2-1 in the bottom of the second.
But Kelly came right back in the third, again making it a two-run game when Casey Kern stroked an RBI single to center with two outs for a 3-1 lead.
"I was pretty much shaking," Kern said. "I was so nervous. I wanted so much to get a hit. Katee [Moore] got all the way to third, and you've just got to put it in play."
Dock battled out of a jam in the third inning. After two were out, she gave up a walk and two hits to load the bases, but struck out Sheri Trantham to escape the jam. The strikeout was one of two Dock recorded.
"They gave us an outstanding game," Ratledge said of Marion C. Early. "They came out that first inning just swinging away and putting that ball in play. I think [Dock] only had two or three strikeouts the whole game, so they definitely put that ball in play, and my defense was definitely behind her today. I have to give credit to my defense."
Kern said everyone was nervous the final inning with the bases loaded.
"It was excitement, turned to terror, turned to shock," Kern said. "It was very crazy."