Clarke may have had a surprise matchup in the Class 3A Region 4 semifinals, but the Lady Indians didn't mess around and now find themselves one win away from a state tournament appearance after a 6-2 win over Chariton Friday at home.
The Lady Indians will travel to the regional final Monday to take on Atlantic (29-5), starting at 7 p.m.
Clarke opened up the scoring in the second inning as a two-run bases loaded single off the bat of Sarah Davis put the Lady Indians on top 2-0.
Davis, hitting in the eight hole, came around to score in the inning, along with Alexis Watson's courtesy runner Alivia Bakley, to extend the gap to four runs by the end of the frame.
The junior right fielder wasn't finished at the plate as she singled home Chynna Beydler in the third inning and tripled to lead off the fifth, putting together a 3-for-3 day at the plate.
"I've been making contact pretty consistently and I just needed to like hit it in places where they wouldn't get to it," said Davis. "So I was just been working on seeing the ball more."
"That was awesome. I was excited ... She (Davis) made some big adjustments. She was kind of dropping her shoulder a little bit and she's a kid that wants that coaching on every pitch," said head coach Lindsey Diehl.
Watson only got herself into trouble in the circle in the fourth when three walked Chargers came back to bite her. Chariton's Brenna Shriver doubled home two runs, but Watson limited the damage to just the pair.
Clarke's mainstay in the circle struck out seven batters in seven innings and allowed just six hits.
"She throws well and every once in a while she'll start second guessing herself. When she trusts herself ... and trusts her defense is behind her, she is pretty hard to touch," said Diehl.
No strikeout was bigger than her punchout in the fourth inning with runners on second and third.
A defensive miscue in the top of the second inning caught Diehl by surprise as an infield popup fell between Clarke's catcher, pitcher and third baseman.
However, the mistake didn't compound and was the only Lady Indian error over the course of the evening.
Beydler completed a 2-for-2 day the the dish with two runs scored. Ashlynn Oehlert and Emma Bolton both tallied multi-hit appearances as well.
Bolton smacked a one-out double in the fourth inning and reached third, but Clarke left the bases full on a popout. She also recorded an RBI in the second inning on a single.
Ashlynn Oehlert, hitting ninth, scored Davis in the fifth on an RBI sacrifice bunt up the first base line for the Lady Indians' sixth and final run of the contest.
"That bottom part of that lineup has really been getting some things going for us," said Diehl. "That's where you become efficient at the plate, when you can go one through nine and it doesn't drop off after five."
Diehl admitted their upcoming contest against Atlantic will test Clarke, but she is hoping that Watson can settle in early and her defense will quickly get comfortable behind her.
"I think we need to focus and be comfortable with everything we are doing and stay loose," said Davis.
UP NEXT – Clarke will travel to Atlantic with a state tournament appearance on the line and a Trojan team they know is capable of putting runs on the board quickly.
Atlantic currently holds a 12-game winning streak, but Clarke topped the Trojans 9-2 in their only meeting this season on June 9.
Clarke 6, Chariton 2
R H E
Ch 000 200 0 — 2 6 3
Cl 041 010 x — 6 10 1
Ch: Grace Bengtson 0K 4BB and Macy Johnston. Cl: Alexis Watson 7K 4BB and Audrey Kindred. W – Watson (12-6). L— Bengtson. HR — None. 3B — Cl: Sarah Davis 1. 2B — Ch: Bengtson 1. Cl: Emma Bolton 1. RBI — Ch: Brenna Shriver 2. Cl: Davis 3, Bolton 1, Ashlynn Oehlert 1. Multiple hitters — Cl: Davis 3, Bolton 2, Chynna Beydler 2, Oehlert 2.