Willard pushed across a run in the top of the ninth inning, nipping Republic 5-4 in a back-and-forth conference battle. The winning run scored when a Mara Lakey pitch got past catcher Ella Tattershall, allowing a Willard baserunner to score from third.
Republic had led most of the night after scoring a single run in the bottom of the third inning. Jenna Belcher led off with a bunt single and scored on a single by Lakey to make the score 1-0.
Willard tied the game in the top of the sixth, but EmmaLee Essary gave Republic the lead again in the bottom half of the inning when she slugged her team-leading eighth home run of the season, a solo shot that made the score 2-1.
Willard scored three more in the seventh to take the lead for the first time, 4-2, but Republic wasn’t done. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, Jenna Belcher doubled. She scored on a single by Tattershall, then Lakey drove in courtesy runner Cass Ellison to tie the score 4-4.
Neither team scored in the eighth inning, but Willard won it in the ninth. Republic went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
Republic had 11 base hits and Willard had nine. Belcher, Lakey, Essary, and Annabelle Gerhardt-Hobbs each had two hits for Republic. Lakey had two RBIs.
Republic falls to 15-10. The Lady Tigers open the district tournament with a game against Joplin on October 12 at 7 pm. Republic is seeded third, and Joplin is sixth. Nixa is the top seed and Ozark is seeded #2.