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Ozark, Nixa both claim five wins, championships at Ozarks Fall Festival


Courtney Merrell and the rest Ozark hitters had their bats awaken in a big way over the weekend.

The Lady Tigers won all seven of their games last week, including going 5-0 while winning the Ozarks Festival Platinum Bracket championship.

Ozark (9-4) totaled 47 runs en route to its title.

All this after the Lady Tigers scored three runs or fewer in six of their first seven games.

"For all of us, this has brought momentum," said Merrell, a junior second baseman. "We're out of our slump."

In pool play, Ozark beat Locust Groves 15-0, downed Kearney 7-1 and whipped Francis Howell Central 11-0. In bracket play, the Lady Tigers met Kearney again and won 9-2 and edged Eureka 5-4 in the final.

Kelsey Batey delivered an RBI-single in the win against Eureka.

As the Lady Tigers slumped at the start of their season, coach Jimmy Nimmo used several different lineup combinations. Merrell was among those moved in the batting order, as she was dropped from third to fifth.

Merrell broke from her slump with a two-hit game against Kearney in pool play.

"That game brought a lot of confidence back," Merrell said. "I can feel I'm getting back into it. I started off in a slump during the summer and it carried over to school ball. For me, it just takes one bad at-bat and I have trouble letting it go and it keeps going. Now that I've got back into it, I can take the positives and keep going."

"I have 100 percent confidence in that girl," Nimmo said. "But the biggest challenge she has is controlling her swing. She swings out of her shoes on basically every swing. Having good bat control and when she is hitting balls up the middle or to the right side is good to see. She's starting to back off a little bit and let the bat do the work."

Natalie Morgan had a pair of home runs last week, going deep in a 6-4 COC win against Carthage on Thursday and also going yard against Locus Groves.

Lady Eagles take Gold title

Nixa pitchers Maddy Meierer and Paige Garetson combined to help the Lady Eagles record three shutouts as they won the Gold Division championship with a five-game sweep.

Nixa routed Poplar Bluff 13-0, downed Excelsior Spring 8-2, beat Lee’s Summit \West 5-1, blanked Smithville 5-0 and got past Grain Valley 3-0.

In the final versus Grain Valley, Garetson fired a seven-hitter. Sara Sweaney delivered an RBI double.

In Nixa’s semifinal win against Smithville, Meierer struck out nine and yielded six hits. Phoebe Gardner homered.

Sweaney homered against Excelsior Springs.

Meierer collected 19 strikeouts in 15.2 innings.

On the weekend, Garetson was 7-of-18 at the plate.