Tidwell pitches gem, Kelly softball defeats West County to claim C2D2 championship
CHAFFEE, Mo. — After the ball hit Alyssa Tidwell’s glove for the final out, the emotional Kelly softball team embraced the senior on the mound, as the Hawks had just won the Class 2, District 2 championship.
Behind Tidwell’s three-hit shutout, the Hawks defeated West County 4-0, at Friscoe Park, in Chaffee, Missouri, on Thursday; Kelly advancing to the state tournament for the second consecutive season as a result.
Kelly head coach Melanie Huering said after that was impressed with how Tidwell handled the game, saying that she wouldn’t want anyone else starting on the mound.
“She didn’t have any walks today,” Huering said. “She kept that ball low for them, and her curve and her rise were working good today. They were chasing that, and we weren’t hitting that outside corner like what I wanted but she was still able to move that ball around, and it’s just huge when you have no walks in a game also. Like I said on the mound, defensively, there’s no better pitcher I’d rather have.”
To add on to her three hits allowed, Tidwell also had five strikeouts and induced a lot of weak contact. Out of the 21 outs recorded, 19 stayed in the infield.
“My ball moves a lot, so I used that as my advantage to it,” Tidwell said. “I made them swing at high balls.”
At the plate, Tidwell also contributed; going 1-2 with a double and an RBI, as she drove in Alaney Moore for the first run of the game.
Kelly poses a strong top of the order, and for Bulldogs pitcher Ivy Meinershagen, she found that out early. Meinershagen gave up four hits in the first inning — the Hawks had 11 hits overall.
For senior Lilly Jones, getting out to a fast start was something that was needed.
“It really was, but I couldn’t do it without the rest of my lineup,” Jones said. “The rest of the defense, Alyssa worked so hard, our defense works really hard behind us, and that really set us to get on top.”
Defensively, Kelly was able to make the right plays at the right time.
With West County batting in the top of the second, the Bulldogs had runners on the corners with only one out and Megan Perkins up to bat. Perkins hit the ball softly to Kelly Ivy at first, allowing her to step on the bag for the force out and then have enough time to throw the ball to home, tagging the runner trying to score for an inning-ending double play.
Then again, in the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs made another late rally after Kaelin Hedgcorth singled and Haylee Watson doubled, setting up a two on and no one out scenario.
Kelly, though, was able to get out of it, as Tidwell struck out two of the three next batters looking, ending the frame unscathed.
“They showed tremendous grit,” Huering said. “Especially when we had runners at second and third and nobody out, after two big hits from West County. We got out of that one, one-two-three, without them scoring a run and I told the girls “that’s huge.” That showed great character and determination right there.”
Batting leadoff for the entire season, senior Lilly Jones continues to set the tone for the Hawks.
On Thursday, Jones went 3-4 with one run scored and a stolen base.
For Huering, this is something that she sees every game from her always dependable leadoff man.
“She does, and she has done that all year,” Huering said. “She’s hit in every single game, she’s consistently above .600 hitter, and we haven’t had that in a long time at Kelly. She is one that you can depend on to get on, and she’s one you can depend on to move runners and get that run home.”
With Kelly now winning back-to-back district championships, Jones said there was a difference between the two teams. She said that this team worked tirelessly at a lot of different things and it showed on the field.
“It definitely does,” Lilly Jones said. “We really had to work hard together as a team this year, and we definitely accomplished a lot this year working together as a team. We had to overcome some different obstacles, as a team, then what we did last year and I really think we met that goal. So, it feels very, very achieved.”
Kelly boasts a team with just three seniors on the roster, all of them being significant contributors. One thing that Jones is most proud of though is how hard this team worked and how much more improved the younger girls were from the beginning of the season.
With a smile from ear-to-ear, Tidwell added that there was no better team that she would want to be a part of than this one.
“It’s really special to me,” Tidwell said. “I just came back from Alabama, and this team means so much to me. I love them, and they play tough and hard, and it means everything to us that we won districts. We’re all so excited.”
WP — Alyssa Tidwell. LP — Ivy Meinershagen. 2B — Alyssa Tidwell (K), Kelly Ivy (K), Kenzi Koepp (K), Chloe Young (WC), Haylee Watson (WC). Multiple hitters: Kelly — Lilly Jones 3-4, Kelly Ivy 2-3.