By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
PARKVILLE - A single-shot home run to lead off the sixth inning by freshman Harlee Olson, and a complete game from junior Makenzie Garr in the circle, lifted No. 4 seed St. Joseph Central (25-7) to a 2-1 district quarterfinal win over No. 5 seed Park Hill South Tuesday night at the Creekside Baseball Complex in Parkville.
With the game knotted at 1-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, Olson stepped to the plate in the leadoff spot, hoping to just get on base. When she made contact with an 0-2 pitch, she had no doubt.
"It gave the team the spirit that we needed," Olson said, "coming off of a not so great Saturday. But, other than that, it gave us the push that we needed."
The Indians went 2-2 in the Benton Varsity tournament on Saturday, but they moved one step closer to their first ever district title Tuesday after what coach Kendra Hodgin called a complete performance.
"We just played an excellent game from start to finish," Hodgin said. "That was our best performance right there. If we can continue that, we're set."
Central got off to a solid start, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior Jaylee Wilson got on with a two-out double, and Olson brought her home with an RBI single to right.
Park Hill South (16-13) managed three hits through the first three innings, but didn't score until the top of the fourth. A single, a throwing error and a sac fly allowed the Panthers to tie the game 1-1.
Park Hill South managed only two more hits over the final three innings. Garr pitched the full game, striking out four and walking no one.
"Lights out," Hodgin said of Garr's performance. "She did exactly what we needed her to do in the circle. So, yeah. Just proud of all of them."
Central moves onto the Class 5 District 8 semifinals where they'll face No. 1 seed Staley (20-6) on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. weather permitting in Parkville.
The Falcons beat the Indians, 4-3, on Sept. 21 in St. Joseph, and again, 13-10, in Staley just eight days ago.
Coming off of a strong performance Tuesday, Olson says the team will be ready for whatever comes their way Wednesday. And whatever happens from this point on, Central can take pride in the fact that it's been a tremendous season with a school-record number of wins.
"Being a freshman, I can't know how (the upperclassmen) feel about this," Olson said. "But, I think we're going to be really, super excited for our game tomorrow."
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