CONCEPTION JUNCTION, Mo. — Platte Valley’s football district has been called the “district of death” by state-wide 8-man football analysts Devin Albertson and Anthony Crane. That distinction could also apply to Class 1, District 14 in softball.
The Stanberry Bulldogs have been one of the most consistent programs in Class 1 over the years, but are a fifth seed in the loaded bracket. Platte Valley (15-8) is the top seed as the second-ranked team in the state according to the Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association.
The rest of the bracket is second-seeded North Andrew (15-5), who gets a bye along with Platte Valley. The Cardinals will play the winner of third-seeded Northeast Nodaway (15-6) and sixth-seeded South Holt (0-13).
“It's anybody’s game,” Platte Valley coach Shelly Deen said. “We just have to find a way. It is whoever is going to play better ball and whoever is going to want it more. We’ll just see if they want it any more than anybody else and we will go from there.”
Platte Valley will face the winner of fourth-seeded King City (10-10) and fifth-seeded Stanberry (8-13).
Platte Valley will be looking to bounce back from their fourth-straight loss on Tuesday after dropping a 4-2 game to Worth County (8-12) in Conception Junction.
“Our ultimate goal is next week and we have to find a way to clean it up,” Platte Valley coach Shelly Deen said.
It was Platte Valley’s Pink Out Game and both teams wore pink in support of cancer awareness.
“There are a lot of people in the community who have been affected by cancer so it is nice to represent them and play for a good cause,” Platte Valley senior center fielder Stephanie Turpin said.
Turpin cut most of her hair earlier this season as part of a promise she made during basketball season. She donated her hair to Locks of Love, an organization which helps children suffering from medical hair loss.
Tuesday’s game was a pitching battle in the early going with Platte Valley junior Tejay Freemyer and Worth County sophomore Brooklyn Richardson trading scoreless innings through four frames.
“I just think that we didn’t hit well,” Deen said. “She (Richardson) pitched well, but we weren’t aggressive and we hit a lot of them right at them. We just have to find a way to find a hole. Right now, we are not finding holes.”
Freemyer faced the minimum through the first two innings and worked around trouble in the third and fourth.
“She did a good job,” Deen said. “We didn’t play solid behind her and you have to play solid behind her. Her job is to make them put it in play. They did a good job putting it in play and we have to be better behind her.”
Richardson was the one to finally break through against Freemyer. In the top of the fifth inning, she cracked the first pitch she saw over the fence in center field for a 1-0 lead.
Richardson finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate.
Worth County wasn’t done scoring in the fifth inning either. With one out, the top of the order of Airy Griffin, Rebecca Smith and Ali Brown had three-straight singles and Griffin came in to score. An error and a single by Autumn Cousatte allowed two more runs to score and Worth County had a 4-0 lead.
That proved to be all Richardson needed against a Platte Valley lineup which openly talked about not being at its best.
“I just feel like we weren’t 100 percent, coming into the game, ready,” Platte Valley senior Jackie Pappert said. “I’m not really sure why, but sometimes when we get down we bring others down. We just have to keep each other up so we can do better on our batting.”
Defensively, Platte Valley right fielder Kali Redden made a big play in the top of the sixth, and threw on a runner at the plate to end the inning.
That play seemed like it might spark Platte Valley as they loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Richardson buckled down though and induced a groundout to end the threat.
Platte Valley did keep fighting in the bottom of the seventh with Kayley Hauber hitting a one-out single and racing to third on an error. Maggie Collins then drew a walk and Turpin reached on an infield single.
Brylie Angle drove in the second run of the inning on a groundout and Claire Galbraith reached base as the potential tying run with a walk.
Richardson again worked out of it by drawing a pop-out to second base to end the game.
Platte Valley will look to bounce back before districts with road trips to Benton on Thursday and to South Harrison on Monday. They will play in the district semifinals next Thursday in King City.
“These are going to be tough teams before districts that we play, so I think coming together as a team, really figuring out what we have to do and getting our bats together will help us going into districts,” Turpin said.
The Spoofhounds are the eighth seed in Class 1, District 8. They play top-seeded Chillicothe next Tuesday at 7 p.m., in Chillicothe.
The other seeds in the district are: No. 2 Kirksville, No. 3 Macon, No. 4 Savannah, No. 5 Cameron, No. 6 Richmond and No. 7 Benton.