BOWLING GREEN, Mo. -- The score was tied 1-1 entering the sixth inning, but it seemed like only a matter of time before the power of the Bowling Green lineup would make an impact.
Three home runs by the Bobcats blew the game open, and Bowling Green held on to defeat Palmyra 5-1 on Saturday in a Class 2 softball quarterfinal game.
Jade Meier had a pinch-hit single to right field to lead off the top of the sixth. One out later, Mallory Feldewerth took an 0-2 pitch from Alana Comstock over the center-field fence to break the tie. Gabi Deters then drove the next pitch over the left-field fence, and after a strikeout of Katelynn Charlton, Kaylyn McKee hit the third home run of the inning to make the score 5-1 and drain the energy out of the Panthers.
"They finally got their timing on (Comstock), and they kinda figured her out by the sixth inning," Palmyra senior catcher Brooke Wilson said.
Bowling Green (24-4) had lost in the quarterfinals in three consecutive years, but now it advances for the first time to the state tournament in Springfield, Mo., and will play Kelly (23-6) on Friday in the semifinals.
Palmyra (19-9) had allowed just three runs in its three postseason games, but its defense and pitching couldn't slow a Bowling Green offense that had scored 42 runs in its three postseason games.
"They have four or five girls who are real solid hitters, and they just outhit us today. That has been our downfall all season," Palmyra coach Jill Arch said.
Deters doubled off the right-field wall with two outs in the top of the first inning, then advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch.
The Panthers loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts by Sarah Harness brought the scoring threat to a close.
Palmyra also had runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings with less than two outs, but both runners were left stranded.
"I thought we're right there," Arch said. "The girls work and try hard, and today it just wasn't there."
Palmyra tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when Megan Stone picked up a one-out single to center field. She came around to score when Brooke Wilson's single to right field got past the Bobcats' right fielder, allowing Stone to score.
The big sixth inning gave Harness determination to close out the game. She struck out the side in the sixth inning, then gave up an infield hit to Stone in the seventh before retiring the final two hitters of the game.
Bowling Green 5, Palmyra 1
Bowling Green 100 004 0--5 5 1
Palmyra 000 010 0--1 7 2
Harness and Deters; Comstock, VanTress(6) and Wilson. WP--Harness. LP--Comstock. 2B--Bowling Green 1 (Deters), Palmyra 1 (Stone). HR--Bowling Green 3 (Feldewerth, Deters, McKee).