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Ozark, Nixa both feeling good about their chances at making a run for District title


Ozark has momentum, a five-game winning streak and a new school single-season home run record-holder on its side entering Class 5 District 5 play at Republic this week.

The Lady Tigers (22-11) suddenly certainly seem to be a very capable No. 5 seed, after rolling to the Rolla Tournament championship last weekend.

Ozark, which reached 20 wins for a third straight season, avenged two COC losses on its way to the tourney championship.

The Lady Tigers clobbered Carthage 12-3 in a semifinal, after Carthage won their earlier matchup 2-1.

Ozark downed Nixa 9-3 in the tourney title tilt, after the Lady Eagles took their first meeting 7-1.

Over the weekend, Lady Tigers junior center fielder Audrey Carlton collected three home runs to up her season total to 18. She surpassed Ozark’s previous single-season record of 17 homers in 2018 by Nya Morgan.

Carlton is currently tied for second place on the state’s single-season home runs list, according to MSHSAA’s records book.

Also having 18 homers in a season are 2020 Webb City grad Haidyn Berry, 2021 Liberty North grad Katie Chester and 2022 Columbia Rock Bridge grads Addie Morris and Anna Christ.

The state's record-holder is Hillsboro's Carlie Sanders, who had 21 homer in 30 games in 2017.

At Districts, Ozark will face No. 4 seed Kickapoo (25-7) in a first-round matchup at 3 p.m. Thursday. There may not be a better first-round post-season game in the state.

"It's going to be a great tournament, highly competitive in about every way," Lady Tigers coach Jimmy Nimmo said. "My girls are ready and willing to play with anyone. So, the seeds have not had much of an impact on my thoughts and the girls' feelings moving forward.  We will come prepared no matter the competition. I can't wait for Thursday to get here."

The Lady Tigers beat Kickapoo 15-9 at the Joplin Tournament and 7-5 in their second meeting.

Kickapoo was dubiously tabbed the No. 4 seed, despite owning wins against No. 2 seed Nixa and No. 3 seed Republic, along with sweeping two games against COC champion Neosho. Also, the Lady Chiefs have a seven-game winning streak.

Nixa (20-10) has won 10 of its last 12 games entering its first-round game at 5 p.m. Thursday against No. 7 seed Glendale (15-15). The Lady Eagles beat the Lady Faclcons 3-2 in their regular-season meeting.

"It will be a very difficult district to win," Lady Eagles coach Matt Walker said. "I really believe any of the top five teams could win the District. It all depends who is hot. This time of the year, anyone has a chance.

"I feel like we have a good chance. But will have to play well all three games," he added. "We will have to have timely hitting.
The Lady Eagles are averaging 7.0 runs a game.

Willard (20-11) was a clear choice as the District’s No. 1 seed by virtue of wins against Nixa, Republic and Ozark. However, the Lady Tigers were 2-3 at the Rolla Tournament.

Willard plays No. 8 seed Springfield Central (0-17) in the first round at 1 p.m.

Republic (16-13) plays Lebanon (13-17) at 7 p.m. in the final first-round game.

The District’s semifinals are slated for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and the final is scheduled to be played Monday at 5 p.m.