Kennett players celebrate winning the Bootheel Conference softball tournament title.
The Kennett infield departs the circle in the first inning.
Second-seeded Kennett overcame a 1-0 first-inning deficit to take a 3-1 sixth-inning lead and plated four runs in the top of the seventh to break a 3-3 tie on its way to a 7-3 win against top-seeded Portageville in Wednesday's title game.
"The last inning was great," Kennett's only senior Jade Caldwell said. "I knew my team was going to pull through. If you have confidence and say 'I'm the stuff and I can do this' you can pull through and win. I love my teammates and they are a second family for me."
Kennett's Jacky Lockhert takes a swing at a pitch.
Portageville's Lauren Jones takes a swing at a pitch.
Kennett tied the game at one in the top of the third when Essary reached base with a one-out walk and scored on a two-out RBI-triple by Kelsey Washburn.
Neither team recorded a hit after Kennett tied the game in the third until the sixth inning.
Kennett outfielder Kelsey Lawrence fields a ball in foul territory.
Portageville shortstop Alison Pepper makes a play on the infield.
Portageville's Allison Pepper reached base in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff single. Hawkins followed Pepper's at-bat with an RBI-double to cut Kennett's lead to 3-2. Hawkins scored later in the inning following a Kennett infield error to tie the game at three.
Kennett's Chandler Essary heads to first base after drawing a walk.
Harris hit a ground ball to Kennett second baseman Taylor Decker. Decker fielded the ball and fired to home plate to collect the second out on a force out at home. Essary collected the final out of the sixth by striking out Portageville's Lauren Jones with the bases loaded.
"We knew if we could pitch and catch the ball our defense was going to deliver," Kennett's catcher Caldwell said. "Taylor did a great job getting the out at home and then all Chandler had to do is get the next K.
"They came back and tied it up," Kennett coach Kevin McCaig added. "They had the bases loaded and we could have shut down. Our tendency in the past was to let one big play lead to another, but we got a big play from Taylor Decker coming home with the ball to get the second out and then Chandler pitched her way out of the bases-loaded jam."
Kennett's Washburn and Logan Vaughan reached base with back-to-back one-out walks in the top of the seventh. Shayla Jansson broke the tie in Kennett's next at-bat with a one-RBI single to the outfield.
Portageville infielders gather to discuss strategy with coach Candice Harper after falling behind late in Wednesday's Bootheel Conference softball championship against Kennett.
The Lady Indians tacked on three insurance runs before the inning concluded when Lockhert drew an RBI-walk and Decker recorded a two-RBI single.
"They just hit the ball," Portageville coach Candice Harper said. "What can you say. Then when we came up and needed the hits we didn't get them.
"We just waited a little late to get it going offensively," Harper continued. "When they started getting hits the wheels came off a little."
Essary walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the seventh, but retired Portageville's next three batters in order to earn a complete-game win. Essary allowed three hits and struck out 11.
Kennett's Jade Caldwell is greeted near the dugout after scoring a run.
Hawkins suffered a complete-game loss. Hawkins allowed five hits and struck out nine.
Kennett scored six of its seven runs after the fifth inning.
"We don't see her speed every day so it's hard to simulate what she does," McCaig said. "Until you get your timing down it's tough to hit her. We had strikeouts and pop-ups on the infield the first few innings. Later in the game we got some good pitches to drive. I'm not saying we hit missiles, but we got the bat on the ball and good things happened."
Hawkins was the only batter to record multiple hits, finishing 2 for 4 with one RBI.
"She's really come through with her hitting this year," Harper said. "I pinch-hit for her a lot last year. Her hits were clutch today and I'm really proud of her. She also pitched a good game."
Kennett catcher Jade Caldwell looks into the dugout for a sign.
"The way I take an approach at the plate is from a catcher's standpoint," Caldwell said. "I want to be able to see and think about what the pitcher is going to do because I call pitches myself. I was just trying to be smart at the plate and not just swing at the ball when it was pitched."
Portageville concludes its season with a 13-4 record and won the regular-season Bootheel Conference title.
"We struggled batting today," Harper said. "But I'm extremely proud of them and our season. To place No. 1 in your conference is fantastic and runner-up in your conference tournament is amazing."
Kennett finishes its season with a 16-6 record and the conference tournament championship
"Great way to send Jade out," McCaig said. "She's had a humungous impact on our program. It's something to build on in the offseason and we are looking forward to next season. We've still got 14 underclassmen and four upperclassmen."
No. 2 Kennett 7, No. 1 Portageville 3
KHS 001 002 4 - 7 5 2
PHS 100 002 0 - 3 3 0
WP - Chandler Essary. LP - Jenna Hawkins. 3B - Kelsey Washburn (K). 2B - Hawkins (P). Multiple hits: Portageville: Hawkins 2-4.
The Kennett softball team with its first-place plaque following its 7-3 win against Portageville in the Bootheel Conference Tournament softball championship Wednesday.