MONROE CITY, Mo. -- Lauren Merrell dominated the Monroe City softball team by striking out 13 in a Clarence Cannon Conference victory.
Ten days later, the Highland pitcher had similar results.
Merrell fanned 12 in a two-hit shutout to beat third-seeded Monroe City 1-0 Thursday in the Class 2 District 7 semifinals. Second-seeded Highland (18-9) advances to play top-seeded Palmyra (17-8) in Saturday's district championship game.
Merrell credited her postseason performance to her experience despite only being a sophomore.
"Last year is last year," Merell said. "I knew that this year I had to come out and pitch my game."
Her game stifled Monroe City (20-4), who was looking for its second straight district championship.
The Panthers didn't collect their first hit until Grace Arnold led off the top of the third inning. However, she and McKenzie West -- who drew a one-out walk -- were stranded after a strikeout and a flyout.
The other Monroe City hit nearly tied the game as Skyler Kauble smacked a long fly to center that hit off the fence for a double. Kauble was stranded after Merrell worked a lineout and a strikeout.
"Anytime these girls get in these pressure filled situations, the more they're in it they more they can get accustomed to it," Highland coach Paul Scifres said. "They understand that the team who is able to slow the game down and minimized the pressure, they're the ones who are going to be more successful."
Monroe City perhaps flinched, which allowed Highland to score the game's only run.
Brooke Miller led off the bottom of the second with a single to the left side. Kennedy Flanagan followed with a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error allowed both runners to advance into scoring position. Addy Johnson followed with a groundout to second base that scored Miller for the 1-0 lead.
It was the only run support Merrell needed.
She got stronger as the game progressed, including striking out the side in the top of the fourth inning. Merrell struck out the final two she faced in the seventh -- as Monroe City had the tying run on second base -- to secure the victory.
Both teams had just two hits as Kara Baker had the only other hit for Highland.
West was just as effective for Monroe City in the loss. She allowed just one run on two hits in six innings, while striking out five and walking one.
Highland 1, Monroe City 0
Monroe City 000 000 0--0 2 1
Highland 000 000 0--1 2 2
West and Smith; Merrell and Scifres. WP--Merrell. LP--West. 2B--Monroe City 1 (Kauble).