Oct 15, 2021 12:37 AM

Six-run second inning propels Liberty North to district title win over St. Joseph Central

Posted Oct 15, 2021 12:37 AM
Brooke Gerling puts the bat on the ball in Thursday's district championship. Photo by Tommy Rezac.
Brooke Gerling puts the bat on the ball in Thursday's district championship. Photo by Tommy Rezac.

By TOMMY REZAC

St. Joseph Post

PARKVILLE - A special season for St. Joseph Central softball came to an end Thursday afternoon in the Class 5 District 8 championship, as Liberty North scored six runs in the second inning en route to an 8-4 victory over the Indians at the Creekside Baseball Complex in Parkville.

Central (26-8) ends the year as district runners-up with a school record number of wins, having knocked off No. 1 seed Staley 7-6 in district semifinals a day prior.

"Not the way we wanted it to end," Central coach Kendra Hodgin said of the season as a whole. "So much this season to be proud of. So many records broken. A lot of fun. A fun group of kids. I told them there's more to life than softball. It was a fun ride. Life goes on. We'll be back next year."

Central got off to a great start, drawing first blood in the top of the first. Sophomore Zoe Trotter got on with a one-out double and stole second before senior and Iowa softball commit Jaylee Wilson scored Trotter on an RBI double to right, putting the Indians ahead 1-0 early.

Central struck again in the top of the second. Sophomore Brook Gerling got on with a two-out double, and then scored via an RBI double by senior Camille Trotter, giving the Indians a 2-0 advantage.

Liberty North (22-11) answered in the bottom of the second, loading the bases thanks to an error, hit batter and single. Kylie Chester tied the game with a two-run RBI single to right.

Ella Hayes then gave the Eagles their first lead with a two-run RBI double to left center, putting Liberty North ahead 4-2. Kayley Lenger followed that up with a two-run homer to right field, giving the Eagles a 6-2 advantage by the end of the second.

"We were hitting it pretty good at the beginning," said Wilson, who will continue her softball career at the college level at the University of Iowa. "Everyone was making good contact and good hits. All of a sudden, they start to come back and we kind of lost it a little bit and then never really regrouped until the very end, which was too late unfortunately."

Central managed four hits in innings three through six, but left the bases loaded in the third, and ultimately couldn't close the gap.

"They started hitting (against pitcher Makenzie Garr) well," Hodgin said. "We had a couple of miscommunications between pitcher and catcher on our end, and they took advantage of that."

Liberty North added insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings, taking an 8-2 lead entering the final inning. Central got two late runs in the seventh, thanks to a two-out double by Wilson and then a home run by sophomore Delaney Grider.

A groundout eventually ended the game, and ended a promising season for Central, but one of the better seasons for Indian softball in recent memory.

"We put in a lot of hard work this year," said senior Myah Dwyer, who will go onto play softball at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. "We got some stuff done. Broke some records and stuff. But, the main thing I'm going to take away is really the friendships and everything. They're such great girls and they all work so hard. I was just happy to be a part of it."

Makenzie Garr.
Makenzie Garr.
Zoe Trotter.
Zoe Trotter.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.