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BY MICHAEL BOYD JR.
HERALD SPORTS EDITOR
ADVANCE, Mo. — Another one of those rapid and loud team chants that Valle Catholic players shout out every game is “two in a row, two in row” repeated several times after back-to-back hits.
That is exactly what some the Valle moms were shouting after the battle between state-ranked softball squads when their defending district champions advanced to the state quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Their version of that chant did not go over so well with the players, drawing a few raised eyebrows along with silence, but the parents only were chanting the obvious.
“Two in a row, two in a row,” (add timed clapping) meaning two district titles in a row for the Warriors.
The No. 4-ranked and top-seeded Warriors held off No. 7-ranked and third-seeded Advance, 6-3, to once again clinch the MSHSAA Class 1 District 2 championship here at Westfield Park last Tuesday.
The host Hornets (15-6) — featuring no seniors on the roster and using two players from nearby Bell City High — had upset on the mind and just the pitcher that could end Valle’s season in sophomore ace Addison Carlton.
But Valle, which out hit its opponent 11 to 4, scored four runs before Advance could record its first out and held on from there.
The Warriors (17-3) on the other hand had unfinished business on their minds, countering with their own sophomore ace Abree Zipprich, who again was solid in the pitchers’ circle with 12 strikeouts for their eight straight victory and ninth in the last 10 contests.
Valle, head coached by Kurt Basler, remembers last season’s 1-0 state-quarterfinal loss to Plato that cost them a trip to the final four. So, they answered Advance’s first lead by striking back at Carlton and placed the host in a huge hole early on.
The Hornets, who saw their season end after a seven-game winning streak, chipped away at their debt, but to no avail, and Valle’s mission continues for now.
The Warriors advanced back to the state quarterfinals to face the Risco Tigers, a team that sits just outside the top 10 of the Class 1 state rankings. That game actually played out this past Tuesday in Risco.
Valle defeated the eighth-seeded Meadow Heights Panthers 15-0 in the first round, then fourth-seeded Oak Ridge Blue Jays 12-1 in the semifinals to reach the district finals.
Advance, a farming community in Stoddard County along with Bell City, defeated the sixth-seeded Bismarck Indians 10-1 in the first round, then upset No. 6-ranked and second-seeded Oran Eagles 1-0 in the semifinals to get here.
Zipprich, a sophomore, got the win even with a few hiccups from her fielders, but she and her junior catcher Makayla Joggerst both came up big time offensively.
The Hornets, who batted first because Valle was the top seed, scored the game’s first run in the top of the first inning, but Valle scored all the runs they needed in the first two frames, scoring four runs in the first and two more in the second.
Junior Kaylee Cline, an outstanding catcher who seemed to be the top motivator for the Hornets, doubled home freshman No. 1-batter and shortstop Brogan Wright-Hawkins, who had walked to start the game for a 1-0 lead.
But Valle answered with three straight singles — by junior Ade Weiler, Zipprich and Joggerst (RBI) — then an RBI-double by senior Macy Joggerst plus senior Emily Flieg drove home two runs via an error, all in that order for four runs before Advance knew what happened.
In the second, Zipprich doubled home Weiler, who had singled, then Joggerst grounded out to drive home Zipprich, who took care of the rest from the circle.
Carlton simply did not get much help from her defense as they had four total errors, all fundamental mistakes, throughout the game.
Advance finally responded with a run in the fifth when junior centerfielder Maggie Stubenrauch singled home Hawkins with two outs to cut the deficit, 6-2.
In the sixth, sophomore left fielder Cali Duncan singled home Carlton with two outs to make it 6-3, thus forcing a long timeout for the Warriors to talk it over.
Zipprich went the distance, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks to go with the 12 strikeouts. She helped her own cause, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a stolen base, two runs scored and a run batted in offensively.
Joggerst (run, three RBI), Weiler (two runs) and Kelsey Blum (two doubles) each had two hits.
Wolk (double, run) and Nicole Gegg (walk) both had one hit. Flieg (two RBI) also contributed.
Cline (double, stolen base, RBI) and Wright-Hawkins (double, stolen base, two runs) both led the Hornets, offensively.
Carlton suffered the loss, allowing six runs (four earned) on 11 hits and two walks, while striking out three.
Second-seeded Risco (19-12) won the District 1 title for the first time in three straight finals appearances after upsetting the top-seeded and regular final-four visitor Holcomb Hornets, 4-2, also last Tuesday.
It was the fourth meeting this season alone between Risco and Holcomb, with Holcomb winning the previous three contests.
Risco, one of three school districts (along with Portageville and Gideon) that successfully fought the consolidation into New Madrid County Central back in the early 1980s, won districts for the first time in the process, while denying Holcomb the district crown for the first time in five seasons — three times since moving to the spring season from fall.
NOTES: This district tournament started the first round on Thursday, May 4, with Valle playing Meadow Heights at home at noon due to MHHS holding graduation ceremonies that night, while the rest of the field played in Advance.
It was just the way things were scheduled as all the other Class 1 and Class 2 districts waited until Saturday, May 6 to begin postseason play. This tournament did not continue until Monday, May 8, along with the rest of the state.
The C1D2 also featured schools from six different counties: Ste. Genevieve County (Valle), Bollinger County (Meadow Heights, Leopold), Cape Girardeau County (Delta, Oak Ridge), Scott County (Oran), Stoddard County (Advance, Bell City), and St. Francois County (Bismarck).
Warriors 12, Oak Ridge 1
ADVANCE, Mo. — Abree Zipprich struck out 10 as No. 4 Valle Catholic scored in every playable frame to run-rule and end the Blue Jays’ season during the semifinals of the MSHSAA Class 1 District 2 tournament on a hot afternoon last Monday at Westfield Park in Advance.
The state-ranked, top-seeded, defending district champion Warriors (16-3) took advantage of Oak Ridge’s four errors and 10 freebies to run around the bases at will.
Valle jumped out to a 8-0 lead, scoring a run the first, two in the second and five in the third before the fourth-seeded Jays (10-7) could muster their only run in the top of the fourth.
Valle, which won their seventh straight, including Oak Ridge twice, and eighth of its last nine games, put the 10-run mercy rule on alert with four more runs in the fourth for the eventual final score.
With the win, the Warriors, who won their first-ever district title last season, advanced to the district finals against No. 7-ranked and third-seeded host Advance Hornets, who upset No. 6-ranked and second-seeded Oran Eagles, 1-0, in the other semifinal.
Advance reaches the district final after also winning seven straight and eight of its last nine by beating the sixth-seeded Bismarck Indians, 10-1, in the first round.
Valle had defeated the eighth-seeded Meadow Heights (Patton) Panthers 15-0 in the first round.
Oak Ridge ends its season after seeing its two-game win streak snapped. They beat the fifth-seeded Delta Bobcats, 3-1, in the first round.
Valle’s leadoff batter Ade Weiler (walk, stolen base, run scored, run batted in) and No. 9 batter Addi Donze (double, walk, run, two RBI) both had two hits.
Zipprich (inside-the-park home run, hit-by-pitch, run, two RBI), Kelsey (hit-by-pitch, stolen base, run, RBI), Kelsey Blum (hit-by-pitch, stolen base, run, RBI), Aubrey Wolk (walk, hit-by-pitch, three runs) and catcher Makayla Joggerst (triple, walk) each had one hit.
Macy Wolk (walk, stolen base, run, RBI), Emily Flieg (run) and Nicole Gegg (walk, hit-by-pitch, run, RBI) all contributed to the win.
Zipprich earned the win, allowing the earned run on two hits, three walks and hit a batter, while striking out 10 in five innings.
The Blue Jays’ Allison Seabaugh (double, run) and No. 9-batter Bailey Brewer both had one hit. Madalyn Schemel scored the lone run after being hit by a pitch.
Kinsley Bogenpohl suffered the loss, allowing all 12 runs (10 earned) on eight hits, six walks and hit four batters, while striking out three.