Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox Softball

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox Softball

Article excerpt

ARNOLD * Fox High senior catcher Kirsten Preston knew all about Eureka standout pitcher Abby Deane heading into Saturday's Class 4 softball quarterfinal showdown.

Deane entered the contest with an eye-popping 18-0 mark and a minuscule 0.55 ERA.

"Everybody's heard of her, she's probably the best pitcher in the state," Preston said. "But, it's not like we were scared or anything. We feel we can score runs on anybody."

Preston and rest of the Warriors proved that by winning 8-4 in the highly anticipated contest.

The Warriors (24-6) won their 12th in a row and advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 1997. They will take on Staley (24-6) in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. Friday at the Killian Sports Complex in Springfield.

The high-octane Fox offense put on a hitting display in knocking off the Wildcats, who reached the state tournament each of the last four seasons.

Preston pounded out three hits, reached base four times and drove in two runs. Senior Ashley Ellis slammed a two-run homer and leadoff hitter Claudia Gallo added two doubles.

Alaina Brand and Gracie George also had key hits.

"I have to be honest, I was kind of intimidated," Brand said of facing Deane, who beat Fox 9-2 in last year's quarterfinal contest. "She's that good."

Actually, the Fox hitting machine could beaten around any pitcher on this day. Ellis and her friends were locked in from the opening pitch.

"We wanted this so, so bad," Ellis said. "Our plan was to relax and try to go to right field as much as possible. We just stuck with it the best we could."

Fox, No. 3 in the large-school rankings, pushed across a pair of unearned runs in the first before exploding for four runs in the fourth to take control.

Deane gave up six earned runs on nine hits. She struck out 12 and walked five. It marked the most earned runs she had given up in her high school career. …

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