Oran falls to Naylor in district title softball game

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Oran third baseman Addie Kielhofner (12) tags out tags out Kala Johnson (20) during the sixth inning Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, during the MSHSAA Class 1 District 1 championship game at Rains Field in Poplar Bluff, Mo. (DAILY AMERICAN REPUBLIC/Brian Rosener)

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Darby Pruett just missed a go-ahead home run in her first at-bat Monday. Given a second chance, the Naylor junior connected.

Pruett's three-run home run in the third inning lifted the Eagles to their fourth consecutive Class 1 District 1 softball title, beating Oran 3-1 at Three Rivers Community College.

"I got a little under it on the first one," said Pruett of her first-inning triple off the left-field fence. "We talked about how she got ahead of everybody when they played [Thursday]. I figured the first pitch would be there."

Oran (13-9) lost in the district final for a third consecutive year but returns all but one player in senior Bailey Carlyle.

"They've got an excellent team," Oran coach Jim Eftink said about Naylor. "They've got a strong pitcher. They've got a shortstop that hits like crazy. Our team thought we could take them, and things just didn't work out that way today."

Oran third baseman Addie Kielhofner (12) tags out Naylor’s Kala Johnson during the sixth inning Monday during the Class 1 District 1 championship game in Poplar Bluff, Mo. (Brian Rosener ~ Daily American Republic)

Pruett was 3 for 3 and a single shy of the cycle, while Ericka Engelman struck out nine and retired the final nine in order after Oran scored in the fourth.

Oran nearly wiggled out of the jam in the third when Taylor Day led off with a single up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt, Oran starting pitcher Tatum May got a strikeout but walked the next hitter.

Anna Jones, who got the win for Oran in the district semifinals, came on to face, Pruett who sent the first pitch she saw over the left-field wall.

Jones got the lone clean single for Oran to open the fourth and later scored on a two-out error.

"We started getting happy after that, but we couldn't hit off her really well," Carlyle said about Engelman. "We're not use to fast pitching."

Addie Kielhofner opened the game by reaching on a bunt that was scored an error. Kielhofner stole second and third, but Engelman struck out three consecutive hitters on 10 pitches.

"That would have set the tone for the whole game," Eftink said. "We didn't get [the bunt] down. We missed an opportunity to get on top and stay on top."

Said Naylor coach Gene Deckard, "That was huge to take the momentum away. We felt like if she scored, they had the upper hand."

Oran also thwarted a two-out rally in the bottom of the first when Pruett sent a pitch high off the left-field fence for a triple. May got a strikeout to end the threat and set down Naylor in order in the second on 10 pitches.

May struck out two, while Jones fanned five straight and walked one in 3 1/3 of relief. Oran's defense also prevented a run from scoring in the sixth when the Eagles cut down a runner at third on Pruett's double.

"We tried to come back, still play good defense," Carlyle said. "They just got ahead of us."

Oran had won five of its last six heading into the final, allowing just six runs during that span with three shutouts.

"It was a really good year," Carlyle said. "I love playing with them."

Naylor advances to play at Dora (18-4) on Wednesday.

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WP -- Ericka Engleman (N). LP -- Tatum May (O). HR -- Darby Pruett (N). 3B -- Pruett (N). 2B -- Pruett (N). Multiple hits -- Pruett (N) 3-3. Records -- Oran 13-9. Naylor 18-3.

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