MONROE CITY, Mo. -- Alana Comstock consistently threw the best pitch of the day to the Highland hitters on Monday.
Comstock threw a first-pitch strike to 20 of the 30 batters she faced, and she struck out 14 for the Palmyra softball team in a 3-0 victory in the Class 2 District 7 championship on Thursday.
"It's very important to throw the first pitch strike, because then you can throw either an off speed or something they can't hit off the plate," said Comstock, who allowed just three hits.
Palmyra (18-8) will host the sectional against North Callaway (20-5) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Flower City Park. North Callaway knocked off defending state champion Centralia 5-2 in the District 8 championship.
Megan Stone earned a leadoff walk in the Panthers' first inning, and she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Brooke Wilson struck out swinging, Baylee Anderson came through. She fell behind in the count 0-2, then fouled off three pitches before lining a base hit to right field to score Stone.
"The at-bat was pretty crazy. I kept on battling with two strikes and laid off the pitches I didn't like until I finally was able to drive one and make it work," Anderson said.
Highland (18-10) had runners in scoring position in four different innings but couldn't come up with the big hit. The Cougars loaded the bases with just one out in the top of the sixth inning, but Comstock struck out Caitlin Hickerson and got Haley Meyer to foul out.
"Alana is so mentally tough, and the girls know that," Palmyra coach Jill Arch said. "Fourteen strikeouts against a lineup like that. I couldn't have asked for a better outing."
Palmyra put two insurance runs on the board in the bottom half of the sixth. Wilson and Anderson hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second with one out. The runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, and Wilson scored after the throw down to third base went into left field. Lexi Arch singled to advance Anderson to third, and Comstock hit a sacrifice fly to give Palmyra a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers fell short in the district tournament last year, losing to Monroe City 3-2 in nine innings. Arch believes team unity got them over the hump this year.
"They've gotten so close this year, and they've got each others back. A lot of pitchers get upset when their teammates make errors, but ours don't. They just pick each other up," Arch said.
Adalyn Johnson had two hits for the Cougars. Lauren Merrell allowed just one earned run on five hits and struck out seven.
Palmyra 3, Highland 0
Highland 000 000 0--0 3 1
Palmyra 100 002 x--3 5 4
Merrell and Scifres; Comstock and Wilson. WP--Comstock. LP--Merrell.