After hitting .458 in the regular season, Ozark sophomore Brittany Nimmo has been even hotter in the playoffs.
And for Nimmo in the Class 4 state semifinals on Saturday, the train continued to roll.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Nimmo’s 3-run double over the third base bag cleared the bases and put Ozark in the driver’s seat early as the Tigers won easily, 6-2, over Francis Howell of St. Charles at the Killian Sports Complex.
“I’ve been hitting better the last five games or so, and I’m more focused on where the ball is pitched and where to take the ball,” Nimmo said. “That hit was a big confidence booster, especially in a big game like this, but I couldn’t have done it without the girls getting on base in front of me.
“It was great to be in that situation and do what I did.”
Ozark (27-6) will face Truman (30-3) in the Class 4 state championship on the stadium field on Saturday at Killian at 4 p.m.
It’s the first time the Tigers have played for a softball state title, but it will be the third time they have faced Truman this season, and Ozark hopes that the third time will be a charm.
Ozark has lost twice to Truman already this year: 2-0 in the Ozark Fall Festival and 4-2 one week later in the Blue Springs South tournament.
Truman junior starting pitcher Paige Parker struck out 16 batters in her first win over Ozark on Sept. 8 and then struck out 13 in her win on Sept. 15.
“We know we will have our hands full against Truman,” Ozark coach Yancey Little said. “Parker throws the ball extremely well and they have a very good ball club.
“Who knows what will happen, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Ozark will likely pitch senior Abbie Clanton in the title game.
“We will throw Abbie,” Little said. “As the old saying goes, ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’
“If Abbie comes in (today) and says she’s feeling good, then she’ll get the ball. And she deserves it.
“But if something does happen, we’ll have Nimmo ready to go.”
Clanton threw a complete game in the Tigers’ win over Francis Howell, giving up two runs off five hits while striking out four.
“My curveball was working for me and my screwball jumped inside on batters today,” Clanton said. “I’m extremely proud. I’m proud of my team and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
Ozark junior Hailee Vigneaux led off the bottom half of the first inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice by junior Kaycee Dexter and then moved to third on an error in the Vikings’ infield that was hit by sophomore Bailey Elliot.
“I can’t say enough about Vigneaux,” Little said. “She set the table for us at the top of the lineup and she’s been doing that all year.”
Senior cleanup hitter Bailey Click reached on a walk to load the bases before Nimmo’s 3-run double.
Vigneaux was 4-for-4, junior Brooke Kroger went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to left field in the fifth and senior Sam Dexter went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Ozark.