Falling behind 5-0 in the first inning and a half of a district championship game means someone is going to have to be a hero. Republic had plenty of volunteers for the job.
The Lady Tigers overcame a 5-0 deficit, posting their 11th come-from-behind win this season, in a 7-6 walk-off win over Webb City for the Class 4 District 11 championship Saturday. Megan Weis drove in the winning run with a line drive into the gap in left-center field, scoring Riley Laub.
But it was Laub who may have struck the big blow of the day for Republic six innings earlier. In the bottom of the second, with Republic trailing by five, Laub crushed a home run over the center field fence with two runners aboard, cutting the lead to 5-3 and giving Republic new life. It was the first home run of her career. She’s the seventh player to hit a home run for the Lady Tigers this season.
Julie Higgins tied the game in the bottom of the third with a two-run homer of her own. It was her 14th home run of the year, setting a new Republic school record. The two RBIs gave her 60 for the season, placing her second all-time on the Missouri single-season RBI list. She’s six short of the single-season state record. Higgins’ 14 home runs are tied for ninth all-time, and her 32 extra-base hits are tied for fourth all-time in Missouri.
After Republic fought back to tie the game, Webb City retook the lead in the top of the sixth. Keira Jackson slapped a triple to right field with one out. Darcy Darnell tried to lay down a bunt, but she popped it to first baseman A.J. Fenske for an out. But Fenske’s throw to Kaitlyn Ragsdale to try to double off Jackson sailed off the tip of Ragsdale’s glove and into left field. Jackson scored on the errors, and it was 6-5.
In the bottom of the sixth, it was senior Megan Thorne’s turn to step up. Thorne turned on a pitch and skied it over the fence in left field for a solo home run, evening the score at 6-6 and setting up Weis’ big hit in the bottom of the seventh.
Laub led off the final inning with a single, and Emma White sacrificed her to second. Ragsdale grounded out sharply to shortstop, with Laub advancing to third. That’s when Weis stepped to the plate and jumped on the first pitch, slapping it over the drawn-in outfield to deliver the district championship.
Avery Romans worked through several defensive mistakes to keep Republic in the game. After the first two batters of the game reached base for Webb City, Haidyn Berry hit a three-run homer. An error also factored in the scoring in the top of the second, when Webb City tacked on two more. For the game, Romans pitched seven innings and allowed just two earned runs.
Ragsdale, Weis, and Laub each had two hits for Republic, which advances to the state sectionals to face Lee’s Summit West or Raymore-Peculiar.