Kelly finds Class 2 final four

Sunday, October 17, 2010

HARTVILLE, Mo. -- The Kelly Hawks, masters of the late-inning comeback and one-run wins, didn't need any dramatics in Saturday's state softball quarterfinals.

Kelly booked another trip to the Class 2 final four with a dominating 13-2 win in five innings over host Hartville.

"It feels amazing," senior catcher Kristen Vetter said. "We went my sophomore year and last year we lost by one. That was a hard loss. It feels amazing to be going senior year just as a last thing."

Kelly will try to improve on its second-place finish from 2008.

"I just could not be prouder of these girls," Kelly coach Melanie Heuring said. "I know a lot of people did not think we'd get this far this year and they've worked hard and improved a lot, and they deserve to go."

While the ending to the game was ideal for the Hawks, the beginning was not what they had hoped.

Hartville, which was the visitor on the scoreboard, scored twice in the top of the first inning on three base hits and three Kelly errors.

All three of the Eagles' hits in the inning were grounders through the infield that scooted away from Kelly outfielders to allow the runners to advance.

"I was nervous because they were putting runs on the board right away," said Vetter, who had two hits in the game. "I was worried that we were going to fall apart because we've done that in the past. But we came out strong and we put it together."

Hartville, which scored 12 runs in its sectional victory earlier in the week, did not score again while the Hawks pushed at least one run across in each of their four turns on offense.

"That's what our scouting reports were that maybe the pitching was average and they were capable of making errors, but they're still doing something right when they're scoring 12 runs in a sectional," Heuring said.

Kelly erased the Eagles' lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning with the help of the first of six Hartville errors.

"It was awesome," Kelly pitcher Kristen Powell said of the quick comeback. "It made the game even again and that's what I needed as a pitcher. You kind of want those runs back, so it let me relax a little bit."

After a leadoff walk, Powell retired Hartville in order in the second inning to allow her offense to go back to work.

The Hawks responded with a seven-run second inning, which included an RBI triple by Powell, to take control of the game.

"I was a little bit worried [with Hartville] scoring two runs like that, but I knew with their pitching we could score and we could hit," Heuring said. "I knew they were capable of making errors. We just had to put the ball in play and that second inning solidified that for my girls."

The run-rule victory was a welcomed change for Kelly, which eeked out one-run victories in its district championship and sectional games.

"It felt great because usually we are behind most of the game and this time we came out right on top," Vetter said.

Thanks to the nearly four-hour trip to Hartville, Vetter said she woke up at 5:30 a.m. Saturday in order to be ready for her team's 7 a.m. bus departure.

"I decided I was going to get up that early just so I had time to eat something and get ready and then get to school and be there on time," she said.

The Hawks stopped for lunch before arriving about 90 minutes before game time.

"I was a little worried," Heuring said. "My motto is I just want to make sure I'm there early and get those girls loosened up, prepared and that we get our warmup routine in. That was my main concern."

Kelly will have to drive almost the exact same route, extended by about an hour, to reach Springfield and the final four for the semifinal game at 2 p.m. Friday.

"Yes, yes, yes," Heuring said. "We'll make that trip again next week. That's fine by me."


WP -- Kristen Powell. LP -- Chelsea Coday. 3B -- Powell (K). 2B -- Powell (K), Vetter (K), Taylor Barnes (H). Multiple hits: Kelly; Powell 2-3, Vetter 2-3.

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