Hitzelberger dazzles on the mound with 9 strikeouts, while home runs from Shields, Riechers power the offense to 10-0 five-inning, run-rule victory in quarterfinal matchup. CRISTINA ERICKSON/Special to PC Preps Extra

Platte County dominates Nevada to earn repeat trip to Class 4 state

Platte County players celebrate a Class 4 quarterfinal win over Nevada on Thursday at Bushwhacker Field in Nevada.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

As the regular season wound down, Platte County coach Callie Peoples made a simple assessment of her team. When the Pirates play their game, they can beat anyone.

CRISTINA ERICKSON/Special to PC Preps Extra
Platte County sophomore Kallie Hitzelberger delivers a pitch against Nevada in a Class 4 quarterfinal Thursday at Bushwhacker Field in Nevada.

When Platte County plays well in all three phases, results like Thursday’s 10-0 five-inning shellacking of Nevada in a Class 4 quarterfinal at Bushwhacker Field in Nevada. The Pirates poured on the offense with a pair of five-running innings behind home runs for junior infielders Mackenzie Shields and Demi Riechers, while sophomore Kallie Hitzelberger threw a complete game one hitter in the a game shortened by the 10-run rule.

Playing as the home team after winning the pregame coin flip, Platte County didn’t commit an error and were nearly perfect in improving to 20-9 this season and earning a return trip to the state semifinals. The Pirates advance to play Washington (30-5) at 2 p.m. Thursday at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield with the winner advancing to Friday’s title game and the loser playing later in the day in the third-place game.

Platte County reached this point behind an often dynamic offense averaging more than 10 runs per game plus Hitzelberger’s development into the go-to pitcher. She struck out a season-high nine against Nevada and retired the Tigers in order in three of five innings.

In the top of the first, Hitzelberger worked around a leadoff walk, and Platte County immediately responded with the first five batters reaching base and scoring to build a 5-0 lead. Pirates sophomore left fielder Avery Webster, junior center fielder Abby Reynolds and junior first baseman TK Lawson came up with three straight singles to immediately load the bases, and senior catcher Ali Gill scored the two speedy outfielders with a single to left field. Shields came up next and blasted an opposite field shot over the right-field fence for a three-run home run, her sixth of the season.

Platte County ended up batting 10 in the first inning but stranded Riechers, who walked with one out, and sophomore second baseman Emma Reed after her two-out single to center.

CRISTINA ERICKSON/Special to PC Preps Extra
Platte County junior Mackenzie Shields takes a swing during a Class 4 quarterfinal against Nevada on Thursday at Bushwhacker Field in Nevada.

Nevada never recovered and ended up shut out for the first time this season. Hitzelberger struck out the side in the second and retired 13 straight at one point before allowing a one-out single in the top of the fourth.

Platte County finally restarted the offense with one out in the bottom of the fourth with a walk from Reynolds and Lawsons’ second single. However, Gill flew out before the Pirates produced five two-out runs, starting with an RBI double to center from Shields, who finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

Koree Church, Platte County’s senior right fielder, followed with a two-run single up the middle to make it 8-0, and Riechers became the ninth Pirates player with a home run this season, hitting a two-run shot to center field to put the run rule in play. Hitzelberger retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts in the top of the fifth to lead to an early celebration of another monumental victory.

Platte County didn’t have a chance to make a trip out of town to state a year ago due to COVID-19 restrictions. Behind six experienced seniors, the Pirates held off Grain Valley in the quarterfinals and then hosted Webb City in a semifinal. A loss in that round led to a shared third-place finish and the potential need for a rebuild in 2021.

Instead, this year’s senior class of Gill, Church and pitcher Chloe Helmer assumed larger roles and helped lead a repeat state run.

CRISTINA ERICKSON/Special to PC Preps Extra
Platte County junior shortstop Demi Riechers celebrates after the last out of the Pirates’ 10-0 quarterfinal win over Nevada on Thursday at Bushwhacker Field in Nevada.

Webster and Lawson are the only returning starters in the same position from a year ago for Platte County, while Riechers shifted over to shortstop. A starter at times each of her first two years, Reynolds moved into the No. 2 spot in the lineup as the full-time centerfielder, while Gill has been a steady presence behind the plate and in the middle of the lineup. However, the Pirates were at 13-9 at the end of September.

Since then, Platte County has run off seven straight wins with nine or more runs in six of those, including 19-3 (William Chrisman), 13-4 (Kearney) and 9-4 (Excelsior Springs) to sweep through Class 4 District 8. Church, Reed and sophomore right fielder Anna Crowell have all become key cogs in a lineup once considered the Pirates’ potential weakness.

Platte County has shown no weaknesses during its dominant postseason run to this point.

Washington enters the semifinal round after knocking off No. 2-ranked Farmington in the quarterfinals. The Blue Jays were tied for third in the final Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association regular season poll, while No. 5 Rolla (30-8) and Incarnate Word Academy (17-11) meet in the other semifinal.

Platte County also enters unranked but looking to go a step further in a second straight state trip in Class 4. The Pirates have been in the semifinals three times in the past eight years after finishing as Class 3 runnerup in 2014 when the state was still at only four classes before going up to five starting with the 2020 season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Headlines

Follow us on social media