Lady Owls win third straight NCMC title
HANNIBAL -- Despite losing its top four players from a year ago, the Marshall girls' tennis team claimed its third straight NCMC Tournament Championship during Saturday's meet at Hannibal.
The Lady Owls boasted finalists in eight of the nine divisions, with two winners. Sophomore Molly Evans could claim the crown as best player in the conference by taking first place at No. 1 singles and the No. 2 doubles team of seniors Kaylie Davenport and Ellen Woolsey also went undefeated.
Marshall tallied 55 points to nip Kirksville by one point, with Moberly only seven points behind.
Evans won three matches, including a 10-6 victory over Moberly senior Naomi Lewis in the semifinal round and an 11-9 decision against Fulton junior Suzie Whitmer for the crown.
"Molly really wanted it," remarked MHS head coach Susan Carney. "That was the swing we needed to go up by one point."
Carney also recognized that Davenport and Woolsey "helped make it happen" with an 11-9 win over a pair of Lady Tigers in the finals. The Lady Owl duo is 10-0 in doubles this season.
Marshall napped finals spots in all the singles positions, but lost some tough matches. Senior Stephanie Markes was beaten at No. 2 by Kirksville's Aviel Kaschube and two Moberly players needed overtime to shake off freshman Taylor Crawford at No. 3 and junior Payton Beeler at No. 4.
Junior Amanda Harrelson also lost to a Lady Spartan in the No. 5 finals, while it was a Kirksville player who got past junior Idalia Aguilar at No. 6.
Junior Savannah Simpson and sophomore Nichole Gann also got to the championship match at No. 3 doubles, but were knocked off by Kirksville.
Seniors Sam Huston and Cortney Morrison were sent to the back side by Hannibal in the semifinal round of No. 1 doubles, but came back to win two tilts for third place.
"We won some big matches and lost a few real close ones in the finals," Carney said. "It took every girl to make this happen."
The Lady Owls open play in the Class 1, District 8 Team Tournament at home Tuesday against an opponent yet to be decided, having gotten a first-round bye for being one of the top two seeds.
"I could not ask for more," Carney declared, summarizing the season as well as the NCMC tourney. "They did not have the experience ... and came ready to give their best."
Cross Country: Avolos, Sporleder medal again
MOBERLY -- Junior Roxana Avolos and sophomore Ben Sporleder kept their medal streaks intact at five straight meets Thursday during the Moberly Invitational.
Avolos (22:40) knocked two minutes, 11 seconds off her previous time on the course to finish 18th out of 60 entries in the varsity girls' race. Sporleder (17:57) came in 12th in a field of 66 runners.
Both of the Marshall boys' other varsity entries showed improvement on the course: junior James Elfrink (20:14) by 1:47 and sophomore Zach Petzoldt (20:50) by 1:44.
Sophomore Abigail Henke (22:40) placed second in the junior varsity girls race with her career-best time.
Kirksville runners took first place in both varsity divisions: senior Andrew Gordon (16:35), who the previous week won the Marshall Invitational, for the boys and junior Halle Dollins (21:13) for the girls. Mexico (43 points) won the boys' team title, while Moberly (50) eked out a one-point victory over Kirksville.
The Owls will compete Tuesday in the Excelsior Springs Invitational.
Softball: Clinton 22, Marshall 2
The Marshall softball team closed out the regular season Saturday with a 22-2 non-conference home loss to Clinton.
The game was more competitive than the final score, which was plumped by the Lady Cardinals 13-run rally in the top of the seventh inning. They drew six walks and banged out seven hits, the biggest one a grand slam by junior Cheyenne Houk.
Senior Hana Hays doubled in a run and scored on sophomore Kayla Harrelson to give Clinton a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Lady Owls tied it with a pair of unearned runs in the second after senior Raha Shahabzada reached on an error and sophomore Cheyenne Griffitt walked.
However, freshman Rebekah Komer scattered four hits the rest of the way and the Lady Cardinals (14-6) scored seven runs -- five unearned -- over a three-inning stretch to pull away.
Junior Bri Varner had two hits for Marshall (5-20), which opens play in the Class 3, District 14 Tournament at Odessa with Wednesday's first-round game against Oak Grove.