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Pacific's Annie Mueller scores on a hit by Megan Meyers during the MSHSAA Class 3 District 4 softball tournament on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, at St. Francis Borgia High School in Washington, Mo. Randy Kemp | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

One of the hottest softball teams around in recent days has been Northwest-Cedar Hill.

The Lions (11-6) have won nine of their last 11 games. The most recent part of the stretch was a three-game win streak in which they beat Seckman, Parkway West and Pattonville.

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In a 6-3 walkoff win Sept. 17 against Seckman, senior catcher Kaili Edler came up huge with a game-winning three-run home run.

“It was the most exciting point in my life,” Edler said. “It really makes me hopeful — I really think we could go far this year. I think we're thinking about districts and even past that this season. I think we can win districts playing together.”

Looking forward to the Class 4 District 1 tournament at Jackson, Northwest coach Dan Davison said the win over a potential playoff opponent looms large.

Not only for seeding purposes, but also for psychological ones.

"I think we've got a good team that's very focused on what we need to do to improve," Davison said. "We're very young and with the way we started, we just needed a couple of games under our belts. We've quickly started playing the way I felt we were capable of playing.”

Northwest boasts seven hitters who own an average of .300 or better.

That group is led by sophomore infielder Jenna Roth (.500 average, 14 RBI) and Edler (.434, two home runs, 21 RBI).

“I think there is a special bond between the girls this year that we really didn't have last year,” Edler said. “There is a lot more friendship this year. There are more younger girls than older girls. That better bond is there.”

The Lions pitching staff is led by junior Maddison Welker (6-2 record, 2.78 earned run average in 58 innings pitched).

“They're a great group of kids,” Davison said. “Every one of them is focused on our team goals.”

MUELLER MASHES FOR UP-AND-DOWN PACIFIC

Pacific junior Annie Mueller is more than a student of the game of softball. She is a pupil of the art of hitting itself.

Mueller's hard work has turned out a trained, selective eye that has helped her crush the ball on an unparalleled level.

Her 11 home runs lead the area.

“I feel like my pitch selection has improved due to my training and focus,” Mueller said. “I have trained myself to wait for pitches that I know I can handle. I study the pitcher's motions and habits and try and read the pitch out of her release.”

Mueller is hitting .477 with 29 RBI and a 1.318 slugging percentage for the Indians (7-8).

Pacific coach Tonya Lewis said Mueller's training regimen is impressive.

“What it boils down to for me is that Annie puts in the work,” Lewis said. “She is on the field with her mom and dad most evenings. Her dedication is impressive. I was afraid for her that it was too much and she would quickly become burned out, but that is not the case. She is the hardest working athlete I have ever been around besides Cullen Van Leer and his brother Cameron. These are athletes that have set goals for themselves and know what it takes to achieve them. She understands that it is not going to be just given to her. She set some goals for herself at the beginning of the year and she has almost achieved all of them. She has the quickest bat and she puts her whole body into a swing. She has the perfect form.”

Mueller, who started the season 4-for-15, said there was a certain comfort factor needed to succeed — just like the comfort factor she's needed to be at her best in the field at shortstop.

“I struggled at the beginning of the year to feel a level of comfort at shortstop,” Mueller said. “That is a new position for me. But now, I am feeling much more comfortable and feel like my defensive numbers are reflecting that. I feel my hitting is reaching the level that I wanted it to this year but there is still room for (improvement).”

Mueller has homered multiple times in three games this year. The most recent occasion was a two-home run Sept. 18 output against Owensville.

YOUTHFUL McCHRISTY PITCHES LIKE A VETERAN FOR WARRENTON

One look at the STLhighschoolsports.com pitching leaderboard and there is a new name all over the pitching hierarchy this season.

That's because Warrenton freshman pitcher Katheryn McChristy has burst onto the scene for the Warriors.

Among the solid numbers are a 1.76 earned run average and an area-best 128 strikeouts — or an average of 11.2 strikeouts per seven innings.

“The goal is to strike people out,” McChristy said. “It's not like it's the thing I'm most worried about, though. I just want to get people out to help the team.”

Warrenton coach Chad Berrey said the success McChristy has enjoyed has helped her make a name for herself midway through her first high school season.

“It's pretty crazy what she's doing for her freshman year,” Berrey said. “She's a presence on the mound and the word is getting around that she's got good velocity. Before the game's starting, I hear the other coaches and players talking about her.”

In addition to McChristy's gaudy strikeout numbers, she also owns a 1.24 WHIP and a .186 opponent's batting average.

SMITH CONTINUES EXCELLENT OFFENSIVE OUTPUT

Parkway North is off to a great start and senior Rylea Smith is serving as a spark plug for the team.

North (10-8) has been led by Smith in nearly every offensive category.

Her .525 batting average, .594 on-base percentage, .915 slugging percentage, five triples and 25 stolen bases lead the way for the Vikings.

She has even done work in the pitcher's circle. Smith owns a 1-0 record in seven and one-third innings pitched.

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