The Monett Lady Cubs softball team is riding high as they head into the sectional playoff round today against Nevada.
The Lady Cubs have 18 victories this season, which is the most in the program's history.
"We are playing good softball right now," said Monett head coach Ty Goetz. "Our defense has been solid, and that is what it takes to win games."
Monett defeated Carl Junction 2-1 last Friday to win its first district crown since 2004.
The amazing fact is the entire Lady Cubs team will return next season. With a young team, how to deal with nerves become an issue.
"It's a negative and a positive," explained Goetz. "On one hand, you have a team that is young and could crack under the pressure. On the other hand, these girls have just gone out there and played. My message to them all week has been: win, lose or draw, just have fun."
In order for Monett to advance, the Lady Cubs will have to take down the defending state champion Nevada Lady Tigers.
Nevada defeated Bolivar 4-1 to advance to the secional round on Saturday. the Lady Tigers also own an 8-1 victory over Monett this season.
"We are a team with a lot of drive and self motivation," said Nevada coach Tammy Holcomb. "We can't dwell on what we accomplished last year or eailer this season. We want to get better in each game we play. Our biggest strength is that all 10 girls on our team contribute and help us win. We want to focus on our team."
This team aspect was made apparent when stats, starting lineups and the starting pitcher's record for the Lady Tigers were not released because: "statistics place emphasis on the individual and not the team." Holcomb said.
Monett will send Allie Krueger to the mound. Krueger hopes to maintain the fire and intensity that she has developed in her last four starts.
Over that time frame, Krueger has only yielded one earned run and two hits and struck out 46 batters.
"She has a positive approach to every game," said Goetz. "If Allie can keep the ball down, I like our chances to win."
Junior third baseman Josee Krueger is the offensive leader for Monett with a .446 average, three home runs and 27 RBI. Junior catcher Andrea Soriano is hitting .390, junior center fielder Raigan Ratliff is hitting .359 with 27 runs scored and 24 stolen bases, and sophomore first baseman Kelsey Wiseman has 24 RBI.
Monett's keys to the game:
* Score early. The Lady Cubs want to put the pressure on Nevada to respond to them.
* Create havoc on the base paths. The Lady Cubs have swiped 113 bases in 118 tries. Good things happen when runners are in scoring position
* Play solid defense. Krueger won't always be able to reach double digits in strikeouts. Monett must be ready to field its positions.
* Have fun. If Monett can play loose they have a shot to win.
Nevada's key to the game is:
* Focus and finish.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m.