"It feels great," said Monett coach Ty Goetz. "These girls played like a veteran team this afternoon. When our defense is solid we are a tough team to beat."
Lady Luck seemed to be on the side of Monett. Of the 11 districts in Missouri that decided their championship on Friday night, only two of the top seeds won championships (Ozark and Webb City). Six second-seeded teams advanced (Monett, St. Elizabeth, Willow Springs, Dixon, Archie and Pierce City) and three third seeded teams prevailed (Willard, Montrose and Dora).
Monett scored a run in the top of the first when Abby Krueger drew a walk and stole second. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error on a ball Andrea Soriano hit.
"I thought we might have a chance to win with just that one run," said Goetz. "We still had a lot of game left, and I wasn't sure how our defense would be."
Allie Krueger pitched a gem for the Lady Cubs. She retired the first 12 Lady Bulldogs who batted, including striking out the side in the first inning.
The Lady Cubs squandered golden opportunities in the fourth and fifth innings to blow the game open.
In the fourth, singles by Soriano and Kelsey Wiseman and an error on a ball hit by Allie Krueger allowed Monet to load the bases with no outs. However, Carl Junction pitcher Sydney Koch knuckled down. She induced a ground ball out of Brooke Madison, and the Lady Bulldogs threw Soriano out at the plate. Kock then got Cassidy Franke and Jessica Harper to strike out.
In the fifth inning, Raigan Ratliff and Abby Krueger reached base safely, but outs by Josee Krueger, Soriano and Wiseman ended the scoring threat.
Carl Junction entered the game as the two-time defending district and Big 8 Conference champs. They wouldn't go quietly from the field.
Seizing on the momentum generated by its defense, Carl Junctions' Tosha Steele broke up Allie Krueger's bid for a perfect game with a walk in the bottom of the fifth. Steele moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Caitlyn Carter's single to tie the game at 1-1.
Each team had an uneventful sixth inning, setting the stage for a tense seventh inning.
Monett came to bat in the top of the seventh needing to make something happen.
Josee Krueger drew a one-out walk. Soriano came to the plate. The first offering was outside for a ball. The second pitch shot by the Lady Bulldogs catcher, allowing Josee Krueger to move all the way to third base.
Carl Junction called time out to discuss its strategy. Soriano trotted down the third base line to talk to her coach.
"He asked me how I felt at the plate," said Soriano. "Coach Goetz told me that he'd give me one strike to get the ball to the outfield and then we were going to try to squeeze the run in."
Soriano swung at the next offering from Koch and fouled the pitch off. On the next pitch, following her coach's plan, Soriano pushed a perfect bunt in front of the plate and to the right of the pitcher.
Josee Krueger was steaming in from third, and with a feet-first slide, she beat the tag to give Monett a 2-1 lead.
"I was extremely nervous running for home," said Josee Krueger. "The ball beat me to the base. I was lucky to get under the tag."
In the bottom of the seventh, Allie Krueger quickly retired the first two batters of the inning. She ended the game the same way she began it, with a strike out.
The Lady Cubs poured out of the dugout to celebrate.
"I was nervous for most of the game," said freshman Allie Krueger. "I knew I just had to keep digging deep and find a way to keep getting outs."
Krueger threw seven innings, allowed one hit, walked two and struck out 10.
"We can't become content with this achievement," said Goetz. "We have to be ready to play on next week."
Monett travels to Nevada on Wednesday to face the Lady Tigers. Nevada defeated Monett 8-1 earlier this season. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.