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Pattonville High junior outfielder Maddie Bailey is aware of the history surrounding her softball team.

Or lack thereof.

The Pirates will be making their first sectional appearance since 1998 when they host Francis Howell Central in a Class 4 contest on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The rare berth in the Sweet Sixteen was made possible by a landmark 12-2 win over Hazelwood West in the district championship game on Friday.

Pattonville (15-10-1) will claim its first winning season since 2016 after back-to-back 15-loss campaigns.

“It feels really great being able to win a district,” Bailey said. “I feel like teams who work better are able to get along with each other and they don't get down on themselves easily. They help pick each other up and I think that's a key to what we're doing.”

Bailey is the ringleader of the Pirates' attack. She is hitting .500 with an eye-popping .800 slugging percentage. Bailey has a team-high 27 RBI and also leads the club with 15 stolen bases in 15 attempts.

She has at least one hit in 12 of her last 15 games.

“She has some very sneaky pop,” Pattonville coach Rob Simpson said. “She can hit the ball as hard as anybody I've ever seen hit the softball all year – on our team or anybody else."

Bailey says she likes to keep things simple.

“When I'm up there, I just make sure I make contact,” Bailey said. “It takes a lot of practice, but that's what I need to do to be successful. I have a job to do and I know I have to work my hardest to go out and get it done.”

Pattonville, which has won six of its last seven, will try to continue its history-making run against Howell Central (20-8).

Simpson knows things won't be easy against the Spartans, who reached the quarterfinals the last two seasons.

Then again, the Pirates have some momentum on their side after a late regular-season win over Summit.

“The girls are entering this with some confidence and that's all I can hope for and ask of them at this point," Simpson said.

Simpson says his team is ready for the challenge.

“These girls, they're such a treat to be around as a coach because we have such great team chemistry, we have had it since day one,” Simpson said. “They're all supportive of each other and they're having a lot of fun. When it comes time to play ball, they are a very competitive group.”

The winner of Wednesday's game will face the winner of the Holt-Rock Bridge contest in a quarterfinal on Saturday.

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