WOODLAWN -- The Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals got a taste of its own medicine in the semifinals of the Woodlawn Tournament on Saturday after being held hitless. With Kristen Dempsey and LJ Hemlich usually being the ones to hold the opposition off the base paths, the Lady Cardinals couldn’t muster a hit but still beat Woodlawn 1-0 taking advantage of a walk and wild pitch in the process and advancing to the finals.
Harmony Grove won the tournament in epic fashion last season. After falling into the loser’s bracket in the early rounds, the Lady Cardinals battled back into contention, winning on a walkoff home run from then freshman Faith Otts.
The Lady Cardinals took the tournament title a game earlier than 2013 on Saturday, going a perfect 4-0 after beating Woodlawn by a score of 4-0 in the finals. The two wins extended Harmony Grove’s winning streak to eight straight.
“We had excellent pitching and we played excellent defense Saturday, Head Coach Sammi Massey said. “We struggled to hit the girl from Woodlawn in the (semifinals). We finally started stringing some hits together in the championship game.”
Despite the hitless showing from its offense in the semis, Harmony Grove’s Dempsey continued to dominate hitters from the circle, pushing her scoreless innings streak to 25. Dempsey allowed a hit, no runs and struck out 10 in the shutout.
Helmich mirrored Dempsey’s performance in the finals, stymying Woodlawn again to the tune of just one hit, no runs and 11 more strikeouts. Harmony Grove has not allowed an earned run in its last 32 innings pitched (eight games).
Dempsey brought back her power bat Saturday after having a tough night (0-5 2 Ks) at the dish in two games Friday. The junior stroked a home run in the 4-0 win in the finals, finishing her night 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored.
“I couldn’t be any more pleased than I am right now with those two as long as I can keep them both healthy,” Massey said. “Working both of them together is going to be awesome to have. It makes a difference when you have two of them that can throw like that.”
Semifinals: Harmony Grove 1, Woodlawn 0
A walk and wild pitch was Harmony Grove’s saving grace in the semifinals Saturday as the Redbirds slipped into the finals with a 1-0 win. The Lady Cardinals were held hitless in the semis, but thanks to continued success from their pitchers, the defending Woodlawn Tournament champions were back in the finals.
“They got one hit and it was off of a bad ball as far as pitch selection or they wouldn’t have got a hit either,” Massey said.
With both pitchers duking it out for the entire game, Hannah Hill took first on a walk in the third inning for Harmony Grove. A sacrifice bunt moved Hill to second followed by a passed ball to send her to third. Still with no score on the board, Hill made it 1-0 on a quick move down the third base line for the score on a wild pitch.
Harmony Grove put just two runners on base in the game (both walks) and struck out six times in the win. Woodlawn tallied a single hit and struck out 10 times, setting up a rematch in the finals.
“Kristen pitched really well,” Massey added.
Holy Drombetta drew the other walk for Harmony Grove to lead off the first inning, but was sent back to the dugout on a successful double play turn by the Lady Bears.
Championship: Harmony Grove 4, Woodlawn 0
After being held hitless in the semis, Harmony Grove broke out of its slight slump, bashing out 11 hits in the 4-0 tournament finale. Four Lady Cardinals collected two hits each in the victory.
Undefeated in the tournament but still the away team on the scoreboard, Harmony Grove got the scoring started in the fourth, breaking a three-inning 0-0 tie with Dempsey’s blast to make it 1-0 Lady Cardinals after four.
Harmony Grove added another tick in the fifth after Drombetta doubled and scored on a Helmich RBI single to give the Lady Cardinals a 2-0 lead with innings running out. Helmich held her own in the circle, keeping Woodlawn off balance all night.
In need of some insurance runs, Harmony Grove went scoreless in the sixth but tacked on two runs in the seventh, scoring on an RBI fielder’s choice from Helmich to score Richey and an RBI single from Dempsey to bring home Drombetta and move the score to 4-0.
Needing just three outs for the win and a second straight Woodlawn Tournament title, Helmich sat the lady Bears down 1-2-3 to capture the trophy and secure Harmony Grove’s eighth straight win.
Drombetta finished the tournament with a team-high average of .636 with 7 runs scored and an RBI. Otts followed batting .546 with 2 runs and 2 RBI.
Harmony Grove as a team hit .329 en route to winning its second straight Woodlawn title. Dempsey and Helmich combined to post a 0.00 earned run average, allowing just four hits in the tournament.
“We struggled to hit in the first game, but we came on and took care of business in the second game,” Massey said. “We have been constantly hitting since the Perryville game. If I ever wanted them to start clicking, now is the time.”
The Lady Cardinals will battle Malvern at 4:30 p.m. on the road today as the 5-3A District Tournament looms later in the week. The tournament is set to be in Mayflower, but due to a devastating tornado that caused severe damage to the area, it is unclear whether the tournament will still be there or moved to a new location.