The middle of October marks the start of district tournaments for many mid-Missouri schools. Rock Bridge, Battle and Hickman are all competing for the Class 5 District 5 title. Meanwhile, Tolton is trying to make its way through the Class 3 District 5 bracket.
At Rolla High School, Capital City and Jefferson City both play for the Class 4 District 5 title.
Rock Bridge (Class 5 District 5, third seed)
Quarterfinals opponent: Battle (sixth seed)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Rock Bridge completed another strong regular season, going 26-8, and it did it under unusual circumstances. After going undefeated and winning the Class 5 State championship last season, the Bruins do not have a senior on this year’s team.
It has not slowed them down.
Rock Bridge has gotten consistent production from all grade levels. Juniors Anna Christ, Abby Hay and Sophie Schupp are intimidating bats that fill out the core of the Bruins’ lineup. Rock Bridge’s leadoff hitter, Cydney Fullerton, is a sophomore. Meanwhile, freshmen Addie Morris, Bella Stephens and Kendall Watson have played significant roles.
Christ and Morris are expected to lead the Bruins in the circle throughout the tournament.
Rock Bridge and Battle have faced each other just once this season. On Sept. 7, the Bruins won 7-1 against the Spartans.
Battle (Class 5 District 5, sixth seed)
Quarterfinals opponent: Rock Bridge (third seed)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
At 18-10, Battle comes in as the sixth seed in the Class 5 District 5 tournament. The Spartans started the season 5-5 before hitting their stride and going on an 11-2 run. They closed the season 2-3 in their final five games.
Battle has consistently turned to Brooke Nutter in the circle, and there is no reason to expect it to abandon that strategy in the district tournament. When Nutter is not pitching, Ainsley Stubbs has stepped up. Run prevention has been a key factor for the Spartans this season. Battle is 16-2 when allowing three runs or fewer.
The Spartans draw a difficult matchup in the quarterfinals, having to face Rock Bridge with Christ likely opposing them in the circle.
Hickman (Class 5 District 5, seventh seed)
Quarterfinals opponent: Grain Valley (second seed)
When: 4 p.m. Tuesday
Hickman enters districts as the seventh seed after hovering around .500 all season.
Lucy Hurtado anchors the middle of Hickman’s lineup. The junior was intentionally walked twice in one game against Helias on Sept. 29, stopping her ability to turn a game around with one swing.
Seniors Emma Henley and Elise Kendrick are Hickman’s two primary pitchers. If the Kewpies are to make a run in the tournament, Henley and Kendrick will have to be at the top of their game.
The Kewpies match up with Grain Valley in the quarterfinals. The Eagles are 27-4 and have won 21 of their past 22 games. They have scored double-digit runs in each of their past five games.
Tolton (Class 3 District 5, fourth seed)
Quarterfinals opponent: Southern Boone (fifth seed)
When: 2 p.m. Wednesday
Tolton finished an up-and-down regular season, going 14-14. In the middle of September, the Trailblazers lost four consecutive games, but they responded by winning their next four. Tolton closed the regular season with four straight wins followed by back-to-back losses.
Sophomore Madison Uptegrove — who set Tolton’s single-season hits record this past Friday — leads an offense that has occasionally exploded for big games throughout the season.
The Trailblazers have consistently called on Kate Guinn to start games in the circle and are expected to continue to do so in the playoffs.
Tolton has faced Southern Boone once this year, winning 11-4 on Sept. 6.
Capital City and Jefferson City compete in Class 4 District 5 tournament
Capital City softball achieved a first for any Cavaliers team: they won a Central Missouri Activities Conference title.
After going 22-7, Capital City enters the Class 4 District 5 tournament as the first seed and is set to face Union (eighth seed) at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Rolla High School.
In the same bracket, Jefferson City is the sixth seed after finishing the regular season 9-19. The Jays struggled early in the season but have won seven of their past 11 games. They go up against West Plains — the third seed — in the quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rolla High School.