EDINA, Mo. -- Knox County pitcher Katie Hamlin hit her spot, but Salisbury freshman Brooke Stefankiewicz just had a better swing.
Stefankiewicz fought off an inside pitch on a 3-2 count and hit a two-out RBI walk-off single to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning as Salisbury beat the Knox County softball team 1-0 in the Class 1 quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. Her single was the second of the inning and third in the game for the Panthers (19-3), who move on to play Van Buren (19-5) in the Class 1 state tournament next week in Springfield.
Knox County's season ends at 17-5 as it tried to reach its first state tournament since 2012.
"I was going for the inside," Hamlin said. "She just hit it to the right side and did what she had to do. You just have to take your chances on an inside pitch."
Hamlin was in a tough spot facing Stefankiewicz, Salisbury's ninth hitter, with the game-running run in Marchya Jackson on third base. Walking her meant bringing leadoff hitter Mikayla Sturm to the plate.
"We talk about those situations a lot," Hamlin said. "We've worked on that a lot. (Salisbury) did their job, and I give that credit to them."
Jackson led off the bottom of the seventh with a bloop single down the left-field line, and she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt before moving to third on a one-hopper back to the mound for the second out. Stefankiewicz worked a full count and fought off a few pitches before knocking in Jackson to give the Panthers their second state tournament appearance in three seasons
"She just shortened her swing, gritted her teeth and got the job done," Salisbury coach Nate King said. "She doesn't play like a freshman. Just calm and cool."
The Eagles were limited to just four hits. Knox County's best chance to break the deadlock came in the sixth inning when senior shortstop Madison McCabe led off with a single to center, but she was doubled off two pitches later when senior Lindsey Hubble lined out to right field. Sophomore Savannah Mauck reached on an infield single on the next at-bat, but she was stranded after a ground out.
"I really thought we could get something going," Knox County coach Becky Barnhill said. "(McCabe) thought the ball was going to get down and went ahead and went. If she could think about it now, she probably wouldn't have gone again, but I don't think it was that one thing that didn't get us going."
Knox County's Haleigh Miller led off the fifth with a single, and she advanced to second on a sacrifice and to third on a groundout. However, a strikeout ended the frame.
Salisbury freshman pitcher Bryn Woodridge threw a complete-game shutout, allowed four hits and struck out five. Hamlin allowed just three hits in 6 2/3 innings, and she struck out three.
The Eagles just couldn't get the base hit it needed. The Panthers did.
"I knew it was going to come down to one hit because we're so evenly matched," Barnhill said. "I didn't think it was going to end that way. I told the girls it was going to come down to one thing, and that's what happened."
Salisbury 1, Knox County 0
Knox County 000 000 0--0 4 2
Salisbury 000 000 1--1 3 0
Hamlin and Winter; Woodridge and Gebhardt. WP--Woodridge. LP--Hamlin.