Dakota Hearn...gives head coach Kirk Sears a high five at third base after lifting a three-run home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the first May 8 against Odessa.
photo by Kory Hales
Big first inning helps Panthers beat Odessa
There was a whole lot riding on Oak Grove's date with Odessa May 8 at Webb Park.
Whoever won the game would control their own destiny in the MRVC West with one game to go. Panthers did everything they could to take the wind out of Odessa's sails early, had to hang on in the fifth when the Bulldogs caught fire, then put Odessa away with two runs in the sixth to seal a 10-6 victory.
Conner Matson needed 17 pitches to get through the top of the first unscathed before the Panthers went to work with the bats. Seann Baker and Levi Harmon each reached base safely to start the inning. Harmon's attempted sacrifice bunt resulted in an errant throw that allowed Baker to score the first run of the contest.
Two batters and one error later, Dakota Hearn sent the baseball flying over the right field fence for an opposite field three-run jack to make it 4-0. After Matson struck out looking, Jake Kienzler singled through the infield to right. Aaron Graham courtesy ran for the catcher and quickly stole second to get into scoring position. Corey Bolin and Jonathan Latshaw then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Baker. Baker dribbled a soft grounder between third and short that was mishandled by the Bulldogs. It was the third error of the inning by Odessa and allowed Graham and Bolin to sprint home for a healthy 6-0 lead. Harmon ended the inning with a groundout back to the pitcher, but the tone was set.
Bulldogs finally got on the board in the top of the fourth when Dakota Graham singled home Cameron Hilbrenner from second.
But in the bottom of the inning the Panthers stretched the lead back out to seven runs. With two outs, Hearn was hit by a pitch, swiped second then scored on Odessa's fourth error of the game. Lucas Schnelle, who was courtesy running for Matson after the error, scored Oak Grove's eighth run of the ball game when he ran home on Kienzler's single through the heart of the defense. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Panthers win conference title, Lady Panthers place sixth
The MRVC West converged on Harrisonville May 6 for track and field championships.
Oak Grove scored 168 points to win the boys division. Grain Valley finished second with 138 points. Odessa, 113.5, Harrisonville, 105, Pleasant Hill, 90, and Excelsior Springs, 67.5, completed the final standings.
Grain Valley topped the girls division with 140.5 points. Odessa was a close second with 136.5. Harrisonville scored 124.5 points in third. Excelsior Springs and Pleasant Hill tied for fourth with 115.5 points. Oak Grove finished sixth with 50.
Levi Harmon won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.08. Jordan Douglas clocked in at 11.38 in third. Harmon also won the 200, stopping the watch at 22.71. Douglas was third overall at 23.22.
Skyler Hulse ran to the win in the 110-meter hurdles. He completed the race in 15.14.
Panthers finished one-two in the 300-meter hurdles. Derrick Dow was first across the stripe with a time of 42.28. Tanner Kanak was right behind him in second at 42.7. Dow also won the high jump by clearing 6' 2". Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Oak Grove lets sole possession slip away
With a win over Excelsior Springs May 9, the Panthers would win the MRVC West baseball title outright. A loss would leave them vulnerable because a win by Odessa over Harrisonville May 10 would mean the Panthers and Bulldogs would have to share the crown. The Tigers could play spoiler, and they knew it.
Excelsior Springs scored three unearned runs thanks to three Oak Grove errors, which resulted in a 3-2 Panthers loss.
"It's very disappointing how we played defensively tonight," head coach Kirk Sears commented. "We made three costly errors, and Excelsior Springs made us pay by plating three runs due to the errors. We ended up with only four hits, but we hit the ball hard up and down the lineup. Excelsior just made plays on us tonight. We only struck out one time in the game. They were just better than us defensively tonight." Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Lady Panthers fall on senior night
Excelsior Springs didn't seem to care Oak Grove was celebrating senior night for the soccer team May 8.
Lady Tigers ended the game just 10 minutes into the second half with a 10-0 shutout. Excelsior Springs finished with 15 shots on net. Oak Grove had just two. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Panthers compete at district track meet
A number of Oak Grove track and field athletes were able to keep their seasons alive Saturday with a top-four finish at the Class 3 District 7 meet in Warrensburg. Fourteen girls teams scored points on Saturday. Clinton scored 118 points to win the district. Lady Panthers finished with 5.5 points in 14th.
Fifteen boys teams scored. Grandview's 151 points was tops. Panthers finished third with 83.33 points.
Derrick Dow advanced with a second place finish in the high jump. He cleared 5' 10".
Aaron Graham's best long jump measured 20' 2" to place second.
Cory Stattelman threw the shot 46' 3" to claim third.
Garrett Cross, Corey Martin, Jacob Stanley and Jacob Ledger combined for a time of 9:02.97 and a third place finish in the 3200-meter relay. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Future Raven... Anthony Barker signed a letter of intent May 10 to wrestle next season at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. Barker was the Class 2 state champion at 138 pounds in February and played a major role in helping the Panthers win two state championships in his four-year career.
Barker was joined at his signing by, standing, from left, Oak Grove assistant coach Jamie Scully, sister Alexis Barker, stepfather Jerry Edwards, Benedictine College head coach Thomas Williams, father Brent Barker, Oak Grove head coach Bobbe Lowe, Oak Grove assistant coach Kyle Cahill. Barker was seated next to his mother, Mary Edwards. Barker's sister, Brooke Barker, could not attend because she was playing in a soccer match in Harrisonville.
Benedictine wrestling is in its infancy, having just concluded its inaugural season of competition on the NAIA level under coach Williams.
Mercer, Bunyar miss the cut at sectionals
Bryce Mercer and Quin Bunyar came up short of qualifying for the state golf tournament May 7 in the Class 3 Section 4 tournament at Hidden Pines in Warrensburg. The top two teams and the top 12 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced. Pembroke Hill, 312, and Excelsior Springs, 338, were the two teams. The cut for the top 12 individuals stood at 16 over par. Mercer finished in a tie for 31st with two other golfers at 21 over. Bunyar tied one other golfer for 42nd at +29. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.
Sperry scores hat trick in 4-2 win
Oak Grove soccer team picked up its third win of the season with a 4-2 win over Northeast May 9.
Sarah Sperry scored the first of her three goals in the second minute. Emily Craig extended the lead to two goals in the 17th minute. Northeast slipped one past Kelsey Swearngin in the 27th minute to make it 2-1.
In the second half, Sperry and Northeast traded goals in the 55th and 60th minutes, respectively, before Sperry sealed the win with her third goal of the match in the 75th minute. Read more in Focus on Oak Grove.