The Hannibal softball team beat Winfield 14-6 on Thursday and for the third straight year is one win away from its first district title since 2000.
The Hannibal softball team is back in familiar territory.
Hannibal scored multiple runs in five consecutive innings to defeat Winfield 14-6 on Thursday night at Veterans Sports Complex to advance to the Class 3 District 7 championship.
The Lady Pirates will play for a district title for the third straight year and remain in search of their first championship since 2000.
They are scheduled to host top-seeded St. Dominic at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
"This has been our goal all year," said senior Taylor Wilson, who pitched a complete game and drove in two runs during the semifinal win. "We're finally here. This is how we expect to play. This is us."
Softball final@Hannibal_AD 14
Lady Pirates advance to district championship pic.twitter.com/AdIrWLoGWK
Hannibal overcame 3-0 and 5-3 deficits with rapid-response offense. The Lady Pirates took a 6-5 lead in the third and during one stretch plated 11 unanswered runs to take control.
Every member of the Lady Pirates' starting lineup reached base and seven different players scored.
"It was awesome to see our resilience tonight," Hannibal coach Andrew Pollard said. "The girls on this team really wanted to get back to the district championship on their home field."
Breana Burkemper delivered a two-out, two-run double to help Winfield surge ahead 3-0 in the top of the second.
But Winfield's lead didn't last long.
Avery Lake landed an RBI single to left to pull Hannibal to within 3-1 in the bottom of the frame. Sydney Hart followed with a single up the middle that drove in a pair of runs to knot the score at 3.
Hannibal ties it up. Clutch single by Hart drives in pair of runs for Lady Pirates. pic.twitter.com/huIz5s5YTL— Courier-Post Sports (@HCP_Sports) October 12, 2018
Anna Hoecklemann tagged a two-run triple to center to restore Winfield's lead to 5-3 in the top of the third.
Again Hannibal fought back swiftly and strongly.
Sadie Stine came home for Hannibal on a passed ball, and Kennedy Schmohe grounded out to second to score Adrya Nichelson, making it 5-all in the bottom of the third.
Hart beat out an RBI infield single later in the inning to push Hannibal in front 6-5. Kylie McAfee scored the go-ahead run.
"There were some setbacks. They would take the lead, and then we'd come back," said Hart, who from her leadoff spot in the lineup reached base in all five of her plate appearances. "We never stopped pushing. That's what gave us the game."
After pitching a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, Wilson knocked in Josie Zeiger with a straightaway single in the home half of the inning. McAfee hit a sharp RBI double to extend the Lady Pirates' lead to 8-5.
Wilson worked around trouble in the fifth. She induced a popout and fired a strikeout to strand two Winfield runners.
The senior struck out eight batters on 125 pitches overall and allowed two hits over the final four innings to preserve the victory.
"Taylor did what she's been doing most of the season when it came to limiting the damage in tough spots," Pollard said.
McAfee made it 10-5 with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth. The freshman led Hannibal with three hits and three RBIs.
McAfee makes it 10-5 Hannibal, drives in two with single. pic.twitter.com/1gpAXUFRWZ— Courier-Post Sports (@HCP_Sports) October 12, 2018
"When we get ahead, we just keep on going, and they can't really stop us," McAfee said. "All of our heads were in the game tonight. I was in a slump but I finally am out of it. I just go up there confident."
Wilson shut down Winfield for a scoreless top of the sixth.
Hart, Taylor Simms and Emma Martin all scored on wild pitches in the sixth to give Hannibal insurance. Zeiger scored from second base on a Wilson groundout for the Lady Pirates' final run.
A pair of errors led to a Winfield run in the seventh before a fielder's choice secured Hannibal's postseason victory.
"As a team we've decided we have to pick each other up," Wilson said. "When one person makes an error, we need to not snowball it. I trust my team behind me. We're all together in this."
The Lady Pirates totaled 11 hits in the victory. Lauran Haye and Hailey Whittaker each reached base three times.
Hannibal drew a dozen walks on the day and didn't commit an error defensively during the first six innings, displaying discipline that bodes well for the rigors of October softball.
The challenges will only get tougher from here on out.
The Lady Pirates hope to exact revenge on St. Dominic, which beat Hannibal 9-2 in the first game of the regular season.
"One team, one goal, that's our motto for the year," Hart said. "We want to go further than we have in a long time, and I feel like we're on a pretty good roll to get there."