Hailey Johnson slugged a grand slam with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Republic advanced to the state semifinals with a dramatic 4-2 win over Southern Boone County at Ash Grove Saturday.
Southern Boone County had taken the lead with a run in the top of the first inning, and pitcher Julian Austin kept them there with a great performance through six innings. The Lady Tigers put a few runners on, but seldom mounted a serious threat. They stranded single runners in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings.
In the top of the 5th inning, Southern Boone added an insurance run on a 2-out RBI single, to take a 2-0 lead. That’s where the score stayed, until the bottom of the seventh.
Logan Keck reached first base on an error to lead off the final inning. After Stephanie Eckhoff struck out, Brooke Dutton forced Austin to throw ten pitches — fouling off several with two strikes — before finally working a walk. Bre Hemphill was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and that’s when Johnson contributed the biggest hit of the season. (Her postgame comments are in the player below.)
Johnson fouled off the first three pitches, and with an 0-2 count, she hit a laser over the right field fence, giving the Lady Tigers a berth in the Final Four for the second straight season.
Republic will play Kirksville (25-2) in the state semifinals at 12:30 Friday, at St. Joseph. Kirksville advanced to the semifinals with a 4-0 win over Winfield. The other semifinal pits Cape Girardeau Notre Dame against Platte County.