Baseball and softball postseason coverage on D9and10Sports.com Powered by North Washington Rodeo is brought to you by Hunter Truck, Christian Lezzer of Lezzer Realty Group, and Triple S Recycling (Located 4 miles East of Fryburg – 814-354-7327), Delta Contractors & Design, Computer Support (Your hometown place for VoIP Phones and Security Systems), Zacherl Motors
DUBOIS, Pa. – It was a matter of who was going to blink first.
It was really that simple.
Moniteau won its eighth District 9 softball title, all since 2007, and its fifth in the last seven seasons, with a 16-13 win over Keystone in the Class 2A championship game Monday afternoon at Heindl Field in DuBois.
It is believed to be the highest-scoring District 9 softball game in history surpassing the 23 combined runs put up by Brockway and Curwensville in a 15-8 Lady Rovers win in Class 2A in 1993.
Rewatch the game
“It was so back and forth,” Moniteau’s Brynne Barger, who came off the bench to spark the Lady Warriors by going 2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI out of the No. 9 hole while being named the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game, said. “We battled so hard to win this game.”
The game featured four lead changes and a tie – 10-all – before Moniteau used two-out lightning in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good.
In the sixth, Keystone pitcher Natalie Bowser – more on Bowser soon – retired the first two Lady Warriors and looked poised to toss the game’s first one-two-three inning.
But Destiny Travis blooped an infield single behind the circle, and Barger followed with a line drive into right field sending Travis to third.
Still, Keystone looked like it had escaped the inning when Taylor Schultz hit a one-hopper to second baseman Carla Schoeppner. But Schoeppner had trouble fielding the ball cleanly, and when she rushed her throw to first it got away allowing two runs to score.
Courtney Stewart followed with an RBI double, and Abby Rottman made it 14-10 with a run-scoring single.
Keystone fought back thanks to Stewart’s wildness in the circle.
After a leadoff walk to Emma Gruber, Stewart struck out two before walking Alexandria Johnston.
Then, in the ultimate sign of respect, Moniteau manager Bob Rottman ordered an intentional walk of Bowser for the fourth time in the game – in her other plate appearance, she hit a home run – bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of Leah Exley.
Exley, who had seven home runs on the season, came within a foot or so of making it eight and tying the game.
Instead, the ball bounced off the top of the wall scoring three runners. Exley tried to score when the throw to the plate to get Bowser was high. But first baseman Emma Covert backed the ball up and threw a strike to catcher Grace Thurner, who tagged Exley as she slid across the plate.
Two umpires – the first base umpire and the home plate umpire – both called Exley out nearly at the same time ending the inning and leaving Moniteau up a run, 14-13.
There was a lengthy discussion as to whether the ball had left the yard for a home run, but the umpires said it had not.
“I didn’t think it was a home run,” Barger, who was playing centerfield, said. “It didn’t hit the orange (home run line), and we caught it (off the rebound) and got it in fast. We did everything we could. Our left fielder, Emily (Staab), did it perfectly.”
That was one of two really nice defensive plays turned in by the Lady Warriors later in the game.
In the fifth, with the game tied at 10 following a triple by Johnston, an intentional walk to Bowser, and a fielder’s choice by Exley that saw courtesy runner Karley Callander go to third and Exley into second with Johnston scoring, Keystone was set up with runners at second and third with no outs.
But Maddie Dunlap’s sinking line drive up the middle was caught by Rottman, the shortstop, and Callander went on contact and was easily doubled off third base.
After Bella Black walked, Stewart got Sydney Bell to strikeout to end the threat.
The game was wild from the start with Moniteau scoring four times in the top of the first off of Exley, who started and lasted an inning for Keystone, before the Lady Panthers answered with three in the bottom of the inning.
Keystone then scored three more in the second to go ahead 6-4.
But Moniteau answered with three in the third to retake the lead 7-6, including a game-tying, two-run single by Barger, who was pinch-hitting.
“Coach told me if some of our other players were struggling I was going to get in,” Barger said. “But, I wasn’t expecting to get in at that time. I just had a job, and I knew I needed to get it done. I was feeling good. I was trying to stay relaxed and just hit the ball.”
Watch Barger’s full postgame interview
Keystone, retook the lead, 9-7, in the bottom of the third on a two-run home run by Bowser, the only time Moniteau pitched to the Keystone sophomore.
It was the eighth straight game Bowser hit a home run in – she had nine during that stretch – and marked the last pitch she saw from Moniteau.
Moniteau answered in the fifth with three more runs, the last two coming on a two-run single to center by Covert, who was thrown out at second on the play while the go-ahead run scored.
Stewart led Moniteau going 4-fo-5 with an RBI. Her courtesy runner Hannah Migliorisi scored three times. Covert was 3-for-5 with a run scored and four RBIs, Autumn Stewart went 3-for-5 with a run scored as did Destiny Travis.
Exley was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, a run scored, and five RBIs for Keystone, while Johnston was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and three runs scored, and Dunlap was 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBIs.
Stewart got the win with an interesting pitching line. She gave up 13 runs, eight earned, but only gave up nine hits. She walked 12 and a hit a batter while striking out 10.
Bowser took the loss going six innings in relief of Exley allowing 12 runs, seven earned, on 16 hits and two walks while striking out four. Exley gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits while striking out one in her inning of work.
Moniteau moves into the PIAA playoffs where it will face the second-place team out of either Districts 3, 4, or 10. Two of those teams will make the postseason with that being determined by a subregional format.
Keystone’s season came to an end.
NOTES: With the end of the season came the end of Bowser’s first year of high school softball. And it won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Bowser hit .767 on the season (46 of 60) while cranking 14 home runs, 15 doubles, and a triple. She drove in 49 runs and scored 34 runs. She also walked 12 times and was hit by a pitch putting her own base 59 times in 19 games. Her on-base percentage was .808, her slugging percentage was 1.750, and her OPS was 2.558. Perhaps the most staggering stat of her season was that she hit as many home runs (14) as she recorded outs (14).
Keystone recaps are powered by Delta Contractors & Design, Computer Support in Clarion (Get your VoIP phones and security systems installed today), C&A Trees, Zacherl Motors, DE Sports, Triple “S” Recycling (814-354-7327), and Ma & Cap’s. Please visit these sponsors and thank them for their support.
Moniteau recaps are powered by Zunder & Associates, Hunter Truck, West Sunbury American Legion Post 243, and Campbell Bus Lines