Fatima shortstop Kinzey Woody hit her 16th home run of the year amid a seven-run third and delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fifth to give the Lady Comets (35-4) a 12-2 win over St. …
Fatima shortstop Kinzey Woody hit her 16th home run of the year amid a seven-run third and delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fifth to give the Lady Comets (35-4) a 12-2 win over St. Francis Borgia for their second straight Class 3 state title at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield on Friday.
“It was easier with a lead, knowing that hey, we might win this with our game last year,” said Woody, an All-State shortstop, referring to the 16-14 battle the team won last year against Chillicothe in the state championship. “There’s not a better feeling than being able to win with my team.”
Coach Ashlee Schnieders agreed. “You know, winning once is hard,” she said. “The way we won last year was insane. But to come out and have that target on your back all season, work hard, get better every day — we were preparing for this moment, and I truly couldn’t be prouder. I think they did it for each other, and they did it for the community. It was really nice to have everybody here cheering us on today.”
She added that while the two title games differed, she’s still proud of the win. “It’s been awesome,” Schnieders added. “I have a great group of girls. I’m extremely lucky and extremely proud of them.”
Before Woody and the Lady Comets broke the game open, there was a little deficit to address in the first inning. Granted, it wasn’t a nine-run hole as the girls faced last year against Chillicothe, but Borgia scored two early in the contest.
“Borgia got the Final Four for a reason,” said Schnieders. “They’re a good team, and we were fortunate to put everything together, especially early. I have been telling the girls all year we need to make adjustments early, and we need to be scoring as soon as possible.”
The Lady Knights collected four hits, including a double, to plate two before Taylor Baumhoer struck out the final batter of the frame. She struck out five and walked none in three innings while giving up two earned runs on five hits. Baumhoer threw 10 innings on Friday due to the forecast.
Typically, the semifinals are played on the first day and the championship the next, but with poor weather expected, the schedule was truncated to get everything in on Friday. That meant the Lady Comets only waited a few hours between defeating Oak Grove and playing Borgia.
“That wasn’t an issue,” said Schnieders. “The girls have been used to playing several games back-to-back in tournaments, and we’re in good shape. These players are phenomenal.”
After the game, Baumhoer said she appreciated her defense. “They always have my back, and that’s a great feeling,” she said. “I know I can count on them to make the play.”
On the year, Baumhoer struck out 207 and walked just 21. She started 24 of 29 games and finished the season with a 22-1 record with a save, and allowed 19 earned runs on 72 hits for an ERA of .93. Baumhoer ended her pitching career at Fatima with 442 career strikeouts.
It didn’t take long for the Lady Comets to even the score.
Hannah Heisler (2-4, double, RBI) hit the ball hard to lead off the bottom of the first and reached on an error.
“Our top three batters set the tone, so if I go up there and square up, and then our next two powerhouses come up and square up, everybody else knows it’s gonna be a good game,” said Heisler.
Woody (3-4, HR, 3 RBI) singled to put two aboard for Faith Jaegers (1-3, double), who also reached by error. Woody said she didn’t think about swinging for the fences. “I just wanted to get a hit and move Hannah over so we could keep the inning going,” she said.
Jaegers was of a similar mindset. “I just tried to put the ball in play,” she said. “We have solid hitters up and down the line, so I don’t worry about my teammates getting a hit or moving runners.”
DP Mia Kliethermes (3-3, 2 doubles, 2 RBI) smacked the ball to left field for a 2-RBI double as Heisler and Woody scored. Madelyn Backes, who entered as a courtesy runner for Jaegers, made it to third on the play but was stranded.
Baumhoer returned to the rubber and promptly struck out the first batter. After the next hitter reached on an error, Baumhoer struck out another and induced the final batter to ground out to third.
She wasn’t worried about a couple of runs, especially after last year’s title game. “I know we can come back from a run or two,” Baumhoer said.
Fatima hoped to keep it going in the second after Emerson Williams (1-2) put down a bunt single. KP used a sac bunt to move her to second, but the Lady Comets went down in order after that.
In the third, Jaegers doubled on a hard-hit ground ball to left, and Backes took her place on the bases. Kliethermes singled to push Backes to third and then stole second.
Lilly Cunningham hit a sac fly to plate Backes, and a Kristen Robertson (1-3) single moved Kliethermes to third. Robertson stole second to put runners in scoring position.
Ella Massman (1-1, RBI) entered the game to hit for Elise Dickneite and promptly delivered an RBI single to give Fatima a 5-2 lead. Dickneite re-entered the game to run in Massman’s place.
Two batters later, with two outs, Kaitlyn Plassmeyer (2-2, 3 RBI) singled to drive in Kliethermes to plate Robertson. Dickneite also scored on the throw as KP made it to second.
That set the stage for the final two runs of the inning. Heisler’s RBI double drove in KP, and Woody entered the batters’ box. She looked at one strike, and the next pitch, she smashed, sending the ball over the center field fence to make it a 10-2 game. “Being able to give us some insurance runs was good,” said Woody.
Kliethermes led off the fourth with a double, but courtesy runner Megan Gabelsberger was stranded.
In the fifth, Avery Brandt (1-1) led off with a double to the roar of the crowd. She hit for Williams, who re-entered the game and advanced to third on a wild pitch. KP singled again to drive her home and was joined on the bases by Heisler, who singled to left. Enter Woody, who drove in KP on a single to left for the game-winner.
After KP crossed home plate for the win, players rushed the field in celebration. She was thrilled with the win. “There’s no better way to go out,” she said.
Woody said there was pressure this year, knowing every team on the schedule was gunning for the Lady Comets as the top team. “We didn’t worry about that,” she added. “Our goal was to play one game at a time and do our best.”
In two innings of relief, Kliethermes allowed no runs, one hit, and struck out one. She’s much happier with the outcome of this game as the winning pitcher. Last year against Chillicothe was a little rough, but she worked hard in the off-season to prepare for the postseason. On the year, Kliethermes went 12-1 in 13 starts with 62 strikeouts and 27 walks while allowing 25 earned runs on 54 hits for an ERA of 2.549.
Fatima has put together two remarkable seasons, finishing the span with a 68-7 record. The Lady Comets were ranked first in Class 3 all year, as voted by the Missouri High School Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Schnieders thanked her seven seniors for their hard work and said she couldn’t be more proud of them.