Joplin scored seven runs in the first two innings to build an insurmountable lead as Jill McDaniel dominated in the circle once again to help the Eagles finish the 2021 regular season on a high note—beating Waynesville 12-0 in five innings on Senior Night.
With the win, Joplin closes the regular season with a 16-13 record. This was the first season the Eagles finished with an above .500 record since 2015-16, when Joplin went 26-9 and made a run at state.
“To come out here and do it the way we did—swing the bats, play clean defensively and throw it well in the circle—it’s definitely a big boost for us heading into districts next week,” Joplin coach Manny Flores said. “I think you can tell by the way we are playing right now that these girls are having so much fun competing as a group night in and night out.”
Joplin held Senior Night ceremonies for Liz Snider, Ryleigh Surridge and Madisyn Tracy after the win.
“The leadership those girls have provided on and off the field are why we are moving in the right direction,” Flores said. “I couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished both on and off the field. I wish them the best of luck as they pave their own paths.”
McDaniel earned the complete-game win in the circle after blanking the Tigers over five innings of work. She allowed two hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out five.
“The way that she has progressed from the start of the year until now, she is a completely different pitcher,” Flores said. “She is coming in there with a lot of confidence in herself and a lot of confidence in her defense and it is showing. She is throwing well and giving us a chance to win no matter who we are competing against. I am really proud of her.”
Emma Ray took the loss after allowing 12 runs, 10 earned, on eight hits, seven walks and four strikeouts in four innings.
After back to back walks opened the bottom of the first, Joplin’s Jadyn Pankow gave her team the lead with a two-run single to right-center field before moving to second on the throw. Pankow came around to score later in the inning on a throwing error to make the score 3-0.
Snider hit a sharp grounder off the diving first baseman’s glove to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to make the score 5-0. Pankow followed with an RBI single to right field to push the lead to 6-0. McDaniel drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in the seventh run later in the inning.
“Anytime you can come out and put seven runs up in the first couple of innings, it gives everyone a lot more confidence,” Flores said. “It allows you to come out and play a little looser. We saw that today.”
Joplin added a run in the third on a Waynesville error and put the game out of reach with a four-run fourth inning, which was highlighted by a solo home run from McDaniel.
Pankow had four hits, including a double, three RBI and scored two runs to lead Joplin. Snider had a hit, three RBI and scored two runs. Surridge had two hits and scored two runs. McDaniel had a home run and two RBI.
Joplin kicks off its postseason with a rematch against Republic in the first round of the Class 5 District 6 tournament. The matchup is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Nixa High School.
“Our district is so loaded top to bottom and I am really looking forward to just playing a fun and competitive game against a really good team,” Flores said. “We are going to have to show up and play loose and confident. If we can show up the way we have the last couple of weeks, I am looking forward to the competition our district brings.”