When the Father Tolton (17-3) varsity softball team takes on Westran (2-17) in the first round of Class 2, District 8, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Centralia, the winner of that game advances to face North Callaway (14-5) on Thursday at 5 p.m.
While that would be a a tough draw for any squad, either Montgomery County (10-9) or Hallsville (4-17) will have to take on the host Lady Panthers (17-6) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., which is literally the only way winning in the first round of this district could get any more difficult.
For the Lady Wildcats, not only have they gone 3-4 in their last seven games, but they also just ended a four-game losing streak that began on Sept. 26 at Elsberry 11-4. The squad also fell at New Haven 8-7 on Sept. 28 according to maxpreps.com.
Because Hallsville has already faced Centralia at home on Sept. 26 and lost 19-0 after dropping consecutive games at home on Sept. 13 against North Callaway 15-1 and Father Tolton 6-1 on Sept. 12, things aren't looking good for this team in the 2017 postseason. Considering the Lady Indians also lost at Westran 15-10 on Aug. 29, their tournament run has the potential to be incredibly short-lived.
The probability of Father Tolton pulling off an upset is much greater than some of the other squads because of the contributions of players like Emily Lawler, who has 13 hits in 32 at-bats for a .406 batting average with 13 RBI, four homeruns and two doubles. Paige Bedsworth is also hitting .429 on 15 hits in 35 trips to the plate with 11 runs, 11 RBI and six doubles. Bedsworth also had the good fortune of posting an earned run average of .62 after allowing eight runs, six earned, in 68 innings.
North Callaway's fortunes have taken quite an upswing this year because of Kallie Jo Lehenbauer's outrageous campaign highlighted by a batting average of just under .500. She also has seven assists and seven errors with 21 putouts for a fielding percentage of .800, which is the only area she isn't absolutely dominating in 2017. Kenzie Ausfahl's efforts are nearly as impressive based on her 11-3 record this season with a 1.43 ERA on 15 starts and 17 appearances with five shutouts and one save.
The favorite for this event has to be Centralia and considering it defeated North Callaway during its tournament 10-0 on Sept. 23 before destroying Hallsville on the road 19-0 on Sept. 26, it's hard to claim otherwise. The squad also edged out Fatima 6-4 in 11 innings on Sept. 14 and came back to win at Mexico 11-7 on Sept. 5. Even though Battle has proven to be a thorn in the Lady Panthers side, they've charted 10-run wins over Macon, Brookfield, South Shelby and Clark County, as well.