Harrisburg got out in front early and held a wire-to-wire lead in a 6-0 shut out over Trico Wednesday at the Du Quoin Class 2A Sectional Semifinals.
Harrisburg (31-6) had 11 hits on the day as they scored one run in the bottom of the third inning, followed by three runs in the fourth and two more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Mya King got the scoring going in the third when she hit a one-out line drive to triple to right field and later scored on Essence Sanders' single to left field.
In the fourth, King drew a bases loaded walk to score Hannah Reid, while Sanders was hit by a pitch to score Mackenzie Marshall, which followed a Karsyn Davis line drive to center that scored Rider.
Rider led off the sixth with a solo home run, her 12th of the season and 27th of her career and later Kerrigan Payne singled to score Haley Sullivan, who was pinch running for Davis.
Aside from Sanders and Davis, who both went 2-for-3 at the dish, Bulldog head coach Red Stafford was more impressed with the bottom of his lineup as both Reid and Marshall both had multiple hit days.
"Madeline kind of gets us going," Stafford said. "If she hits and gets on base, normally she'll score. This time, it wasn't Madeline that got us going. It was Mya King that got us going. If we can get out and put a run or two on the board, it seems like we settle down and then we play a good ballgame. My number nine hitter had a couple of hits today. We hit the ball up and down the lineup today."
Rider was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while King was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Maddy Ladd went 1-for-3.
It was stark contrast on the defensive end for Harrisburg and made the plays we had to and kept them off the board. We made a couple of plays defensively that kept them from scoring. You could just kind of see that when they didn't score that they got down. It's tough. When you get this far along in the season and get into games like this, if you get a chance to score -- you better score. You're not going to get too many chances."
Kerrigan Payne, who improved to 24-5 on the year, went the distance, allowing eight hits to the Pioneers, while striking out three.
Payne was also helped out by some defensive web gems all day, but found herself in trouble in the top of the second when Alyssa Bastien and Reagan Couch were both at first and second with one out. That followed a single by Laney Anderson to load the bases. Myah Kelly then struck out and Mysa Titsworth grounded out to first as Harrisburg got of the jam.
Harrisburg is now in the Sweet 16 and will play Pinckneyville for the Class 2A Sectional Championship on Friday at Du Quoin High School, starting at 4:30 p.m.
Stafford knows its a moment his team should cherish, but also knows it's just nice to still be playing this time of the year.
"There's nothing better than playing this time of year," Stafford said. "It's what you work for all year long to get a chance to play in Sectionals, Super-Sectionals, and a chance to go to the State Tournament. Pinckneyville is an excellent ball club. They're well coached and they've been here before. We're going to have to play an excellent game. When we get a chance to score, we are going to have to score. We're going to have to play great defense against them. They will put the ball in play. They have some kids who can hit the ball and they'll put the ball in play. We'll have to play good defense."
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.