BY JIM MISUNAS
HOISINGTON — It was Gracie Aylward’s day to shine for the powerhouse Hoisington/Central Plains softball team. Aylward capped a 6-RBI night with a 3-run homer to spark the Cardinals past Plainville/Stockton 16-0. The Cardinals pounded out eight extra-base hits.
Pitcher Kassidy Nixon (11-0) struck out six batters in a 2-hit shutout.
The Cardinals (20-1) play Russell/Victoria (8-13) Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s 3A regional championship. Beloit (16-3) plays Hays Thomas More Prep (11-10) in Wednesday’s semifinal at Hays.
Nixon drilled a 2-run first-inning homer after Kadence Urban’s RBI single. Nixon leads the Cardinals with 43 RBIs. Addyson Ogle’s RBI double and Nixon’s RBI triple keyed a 3-run second inning.
Aylward’s 2-run double scored Ava Henry and Addyson Ogle in a 4-run third inning. Shaylah Kempke drilled an RBI triple and Urban followed with an RBI single for a 10-0 lead.
Mollie Steiner tripled home a run and Kashlin Beck’s 2-run-scoring single preceded Aylward’s game-ending 3-run homer.
The Cardinals are favored to meet Beloit in the finals in a rematch of last year’s classic 1-0 showdown when Nixon struck out 15 batters and Chloe Odle struck out 17 batters in a 10-inning affair.
BELOIT 11, LARNED 0 — Beloit pitchers Kim Nichols and Jaidyn Follis shut out Larned on two hits. Larned’s Emma Thompson and Clara Shaver delivered singles.
Beloit’s Trinity McMillian and O Wright each drove in two runs. Chloe Odle tripled and had three hits. Payton Remus, Haleigh Pearson, T. Monty, Sydnie Conn and Makenzie Travis also drove home runs.
Plainville/Stockton 000 00 — 0 2 1
Hoisington 334 6 — 16 14 0
Coryn Hahn and Stamper. Nixon and Urban. W—Nixon, 12-0. 2B—H—Ogle, Aylward. 3B—H—Nixon, Beck, Kempke, Steiner. HR—H—Nixon (6), Aylward.
Larned 000 00 — 0 2 3
Beloit 243 01 — 10 16 1
Wood and Kenzie Reinert. Nichols, Follis (5) and McMillan. W—Nichols. L—Wood. 2B—B—Monty, Pearson, Wright. 3B—B—Odle.
3A HAYS MONDAY/WEDNESDAY
FIRST ROUND—Hoisington/Central Plains 16, Plainville/Stockton 0; 5 Russell/Victoria 5, Sylvan-Lucas 4; Beloit 11, Larned 0; Hays TMP 8, Colby 5
SEMIFINALS—Hoisington/Central Plains 20-1 vs. Russell/Victoria 8-13, 3 p.m.; Beloit 16-3 vs. Hays TMP 11-10, 5 p.m.