JOPLIN, Mo. — Three Rivers softball has won its first Region XVI Championship. With the tying run on deck with one out and Crowder threatening a second desperate seventh inning rally, Summer Shockley got her 251st strikeout of the season to beat Crowder 9-6 on Sunday in Joplin. "It was pretty wild and satisfying. It was a long day we had. After blowing the first game and trying to figure out how to dig down and pull out that second game," Three Rivers coach Jeff Null said. The Raiders will host No. 14 ranked and Region 11 Indian Hills on Friday and Saturday in the District J playoff for the right to go to the national tournament in St. George, Utah. The Lady Raiders play at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday and if necessary at noon Saturday in the best of three series. With Three Rivers taking the winner's bracket in the Region XVI tournament, it had two chances Sunday to beat Crowder in the double elimination tournament. The Lady Raiders had Crowder on the ropes in the first game and collapsed late and lost 7-6. They led 6-1 after three innings and had Region XVI Player of the Year Summer Shockley in the circle. Randi Scruggs hit a two-run home run in the second inning and Kabrien Rogers drove in three combined runs off a pair of singles, but then the two suffered a brutal collision in center field. In the fifth, both dove after a fly ball and collided. Scruggs suffered the worst of it and went to the emergency room with a knee injury. Null said he is waiting on MRI results, but his leadoff hitter, center fielder and two-time All-Region XVI selection is out for the season. "It was like a punch in the gut," Null said. "That's when they started making their comeback and we couldn't hold them off." The Roughriders scored three runs in the fifth, and then Makaila Leonhart tied the game in the top of the seventh with a two-run homer. With two outs, No. 9 hitter Maggy Rieschick doubled and leadoff hitter Lexi McClellan came through with a go-ahead single. The Lady Raiders had the walk-off run on first with one out, but didn't get the ball out of the infield. Shockley allowed nine hits, four walks and three hit batters with three strikeouts in the loss. In the nightcap, Three Rivers again led 6-1, this time after five innings. All six runs were unearned after a pair of Crowder errors. The Roughriders scored two in the sixth after connecting for three straight singles of Three Rivers pitcher Macy Rogers, who hadn't allowed consecutive hits up to that point. "That kind of allowed us to get our feet back underneath us," Null said of Rogers' strong start. "Macy threw six great innings and Summer finished it off for her. It was very satisfying. Just the amount of guts and toughness the girls showed." With the momentum once again shifting in the sixth inning Ali Law took it back with a three-run home run to put the Raiders ahead 9-3. "It ended up being the difference in the game," Null said. "Crowder might be the best hitting team in the nation, stat wise. Their whole lineup just keeps coming at you. I was so happy for her because she has been struggling for a little bit. She was due and it couldn't have come at a bigger time." Rogers allowed a pair of doubled to start the seventh and Null brought Shockley back in. Shockley, though, threw two balls and then gave up a tworun home run. With Scruggs back from the hospital, on crutches but in time to see the seventh inning, Shockley got a strikeout and gave up a double, putting the tying run in the on-deck circle.
Sophie Wunderlich caught a popup near second base and Shockley got one more strikeout to start the celebration. Rogers allowed eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six innings. Kristyn Carpenter and Law both had two hits and scored two runs in the nightcap, with Law driving in four runs. Peyton Gunn also had two RBIs. Crowder committed four errors and of Three Rivers' nine runs, only the three earned were off Law's homer. Three Rivers previously lost to Indian Hills 10-5 during the Joplin Bash in March on a day with terrible weather and neither team throwing its No. 1 pitcher. "They are going to be very similar to Crowder," Null said. "They hit the ball really well and probably have a little bit better pitching than Crowder has. We have our hands full."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic