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Diamond uses 10-run 4th inning to turn game around, top Willow Springs

May 20—SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It was the middle of the order coming to the plate for Diamond in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Wildcats trailed Willow Springs 3-2.

Aubrey Ball's grounder through the left side of the infield sparked what would eventually be a 10-run rally in the inning that saw 15 Diamond hitters come to the plate.

After shutting the Bears down in the top of the sixth, Caitlyn Suhrie came to the plate to start the home half and hit a walkoff home run to earn the Wildcats a 13-3 semifinal victory in the Class 2 championships at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield.

"That kid's clutch. I think that should be her middle name," Diamond head coach Kelsey Parrish said.

Suhrie said she had a laugh after seeing the ball clear the fence because assistant coach BJ Lorenzen had just told her "don't go up there and swing the crap out of it. Just get a hit."

Suhrie's clutch gene appeared when she had to come in for starting pitcher Taelyn Reeder in the middle of the second inning. Suhrie inherited three baserunners as Reeder left after walking in a run with the bases loaded. Reeder had walked three batters and hit one in 1 1/3 innings of work.

Suhrie got a ground ball to Lauren Turner for the second out of the inning but a run scored to give Willow Springs a 2-1 lead. The next batter, Madelyn Fair, singled into center field and drove in a run. But Chloe Jones rounded third to try and score from second base and the throw in was on the money forcing Jones to turn back.

Jones was caught in the rundown for an 8-2-5-1 out as Suhrie caught the ball near home and hustled to make a diving tag on Jones and end the inning.

"She knew what her job was and she came in and did it," Parrish said.

Suhrie went on to allow three baserunners on one hit and two walks the rest of the game. The fourth baserunner reached on an error.

"Just working the corners of the plate. BJ (Lorenzen) is calling pitches and she did great. On my part, looking at where they're standing in the box and where I can attack their weaknesses," Suhrie said.

Diamond started the game's scoring with a single from Turner to drive Suhrie in after Suhrie's double to center field. Suhrie ended up getting three bases after a bobble by Willow Springs' Aleisha Shanks allowed her to take an extra base.

The Bears responded with three straight runs and got their offense all in the second inning. Jones drew the walk on Reeder with the bases full to tie the game. Then Khila Smith's ground out made it 2-1. And Fair's single added the third run.

There was a lot of activity on the base paths through the first three innings with the bases being loaded by Diamond in each inning and Willow Springs. Diamond had stranded seven runners after three frames and the Bears four.

Things stayed quiet until the bottom of the fifth.

Diamond had to earn everything it got from Willow Springs as it picked up nine hits in the fifth and only got walked one time.

"They (Willow Springs) hit the strike zone well," Parrish said.

Willow Springs' starter Emma Spence pitched into the fifth before being replaced by Smith. But Diamond continued rallying.

"I thought we played really, really well for four innings," Bears' head coach Ryan Bunch said. "We were able to keep (Diamond) off-balance a bit. I'm sure they're not used to slow pitching. ... Once they got their timing down they were able to get hit, after hit, after hit."

Then Suhrie ended the game in the sixth with her solo shot to centerfield that sent Willow Springs centerfielder, Shanks, flying over the fence as she crashed into the temporary tape-style fencing trying to rob the home run.