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Suddenly surging Lady Tigers whip Carl Junction to add to their momentum


Kaylee Linnebur wanted to talk about everything but her home run upon visiting with her mom after Ozark’s 10-0, six-inning whipping of Carl Junction on Thursday.

The Lady Tigers shortstop quickly swayed their conversation toward her bunt single that capped her two-hit, two-runs scored afternoon.

“It was funny my Mom said, ‘Good hit,’ to me and I said, 'Yeah, that bunt felt really good, to get it down like that,’” Linnebur said. “She said, ‘But what about your home run?’”

Linnebur’s solo homer in the second inning started Ozark’s scoring. Her bunt single was part of the Lady Tigers’ eight-run outburst in the sixth.

Linnebur was proud to execute a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line so perfectly that, with a burst of speed, she turned it into a hit.

“That was exactly what I wanted to do, pull the first baseman in and leave first base open,” she said.

Linnebur fits perfectly in Ozark coach Jimmy Nimmo’s small-ball strategy. She was all too willing to lay down a sacrifice but, even after homering earlier in the game.

“It's nice to hit home runs, but if you can play small ball, there's a good chance you'll win,” Linnebur said. “Small ball is crucial to winning.”

Linnebur actually learned the value of putting pressure on the opposing defense by bunting, stealing and going for an extra base shortly after she first started playing softball.

“It started at a pretty young age for me,” she said. “I remember I was in 8U when I delay-stole home and we won a tournament off of that. My Dad was coaching us and I ran over and hugged him. I was super excited. 

“I'm really big on small ball,” she added. “I love running the bases and getting in the catcher's head. That’s one of my favorite things to do.”

Ozark featured a combination of small ball and long ball, while eventually pulling away from Carl Junction. It was a 2-0 ball game going into the bottom of the sixth.

In addition to Linnebur’s deep homer to center field, center fielder Audrey Carlton supplied a grand slam that just cleared the left-field fence to close out the contest via the 10-run rule.

Third baseman Kelsie Batey walked, singled and had a two-run double. Winning pitcher Kendall McCoy rapped out an RBI-single and added another RBI-single by beating out an infield grounder.

Unlike Ozark pitchers in recent years, McCoy has hit for herself all season.

I wasn't expecting it to be like that, but I like hitting for myself,” McCoy said. “Just because I'm pitching doesn't mean I don't want to hit, too. I know a lot of coaches don’t want their pitcher to hit and want them to rest, but I'm fine with it.”

McCoy posted her second shutout of the week. After blanking West Plains 10-0 Monday, she one-hit Carl Junction. She also led Ozark to a 5-2 win at Webb City on Tuesday.

“I've been pitching well the last two games,” McCoy said. “I was hitting my spots today.”

Ozark (16-10 overall and 4-4 in the COC) has won four of its last five games.

“We have good momentum with these last couple wins,” McCoy said.