Kelly stages 7th-inning rally to reach Class 2 title game

Saturday, October 23, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Prior to Kelly's Class 2 state softball semifinal matchup with Putnam County at Rainbow Softball Complex on Friday, the seniors made it a point to have a little chat with the rest of the team.

The focus of the conversation was just to stay focused no matter the situation.

"There are six seniors and we all want to get to the state championship game," senior pitcher Whitney Beggs said. "We've been thinking about that since our freshman year."

The team listened.

Kelly posted a come-from-behind 5-2 victory over the defending state champion Midgets to advance to today's 11:30 a.m. championship game against Bishop LeBlond.

Beggs went the distance in the win, but heading into the top of the seventh things were looking a bit bleak for the Hawks.

After struggling against Beggs for much of the first four innings, the Midgets took advantage of an error in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead.

Putnam County maintained that lead into the seventh inning.

"To be honest, when we usually get in that situation, we are able to hold that lead," Putnam County coach Mike Schmidli said.

But that wasn't the case Friday.

With one out in the seventh inning and Kristin Harper on first base, Summer Proctor singled to put runners on the corners. Brittany Ponder then singled to up the middle to tie the game at 2-2. The next batter, Kelly Essner, doubled to center field, scoring Proctor to give Kelly the lead. And the Hawks weren't done.

Jessica Burnett's sacrifice fly to center field scored Ponder and Rachel Kline's single scored Essner.

Kelly came up with five hits and four runs in the seventh inning barrage that couldn't have come at a better time.

"We did the same thing in the quarterfinals. We were down by two and I just told the girls, 'Hey, you've done this before, there's no reason you can't do it again,'" Kelly coach Rhonda Ratledge said. "It was just a matter of timing. Summer got on base and from there we were just on a roll."

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