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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lady Cubs roar back to defeat Nevada

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stellar defense. Monett left fielder, Jessica Harper secures a fly ball into her glove to record an out against Nevada Monday night. The Lady Cubs defense was solid against the Lady Tigers in the 6-5 victory. [Times Photo by Jared Lankford]
The Monett Lady Cubs softball team (8-1, 1-0) erased a four-run deficit to clip the Nevada Lady Tigers 6-5 Monday night at North Park.

Last year, The Lady Tigers ended the Lady Cubs season in the sectional playoffs. In 2010, Nevada came back to clip Monett 9-8. The Lady Tigers went on to win a state title that season.

On the mound for Nevada was Christian Novak, the same pitcher who defeated Monett in the playoffs a year ago.

Grand theft. Monett sophomore Allie Krueger steals second base during the Lady Cubs 6-5 victory over Nevada Monday night at North park. [Times Photo by Jared Lankford]
Monett entered the contest looking for retribution for the shortcomings of the previous matchups.

"We wanted to get a little payback," said Monett coach Ty Goetz. "We knew that a win would be a huge confidence boost and a step in the right direction."

The Lady Cubs got off to a promising start scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning.

Allie Krueger slapped a swinging bunt single. She immediately stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. She scored on an error by Nevada.

Unfazed by the early momentum, the battle tested Lady Tigers went to work at the plate.

Nevada scored two runs on three hits in the second inning, adding a single tally in the third inning and two more runs in the fourth, to lead 5-1.

On paper, with the bottom of the order coming to bat, a comeback seemed unlikely. Novak had retired seven of the last eight Monett batters she had faced and was in complete control.

Coach Goetz huddled his squad around the dugout before the Lady Cubs batted in the bottom of the fourth.

"He asked us how bad we wanted to battle and encouraged us to keep fighting," said Monett pitcher Raigan Ratliff.

Responding to their coach's challenge, the Lady Cubs rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

Josee Krueger collected a one-out single and with two outs Andrea Soriano walked. Brooke Burnside extended the inning with a RBI single to score Krueger.

Jessica Haper then hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop, who had trouble fielding it cleanly which allowed Harper enough time to beat the throw to first. Soriano scored on the play to cut the gap to 5-3.

Allie Krueger slapped another single to load the bases and bring Ratliff to the plate.

"I went to the plate knowing there were two outs and I was just looking for a ball to hit hard into the outfield gap," said Ratliff.

In her first two plate appearances, Ratliff had struck out each time. The third trip to the dish proved to be the charm. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Ratliff ripped the ball to the gap in right center. Two runs crossed the plate and the Lady Cubs tied the game.

"All season long the bottom of our order has continued to produce runs," said Goetz. "Tonight they battled a tough pitcher, put the ball in play and and brought the top of the order to the plate to help drive in runs. Raigan came to the plate with a chance to help us out and she delivered."

Monett took the lead for good in the fifth inning.

Abby Krueger struck out to open the frame, but the ball rolled away from the catcher allowing Krueger to reach first safely. Josee Krueger then hit a screaming line drive to center that rolled past the center fielder to allow Abby to score from first and give Monett a 6-5 advantage.

Nevada wouldn't fade into the night. Cheyenne Brewer singled to open the sixth inning and back-to-back walks to Makenzie Pritchett and Carsten Warner loaded the bases with no one out.

Needing to catch a break, the Lady Cubs defense rose to the occasion.

Ashley Shumaker ripped a ball that was head high and rocketed toward the left field gap. Monett shortstop Brooke Madison reached her glove out and snared the hot shot then fired to third base to complete a double play. A harmless pop-up to second base by the next batter ended the inning, and everyone rooting for the purple and gold breathed a collective sigh of relief.

"Brooke made a heads up play," said Goetz. "We had pulled our infield in to make a potential play at the plate. When the ball was hit I thought it was headed to the outfield."

Ratliff set the Lady Tigers down in order in the seventh to earn the victory.

After the game, Goetz put the game into perspective for his team.

"I told the girls that this was a great win and they should be proud of battling to get the victory," said Goetz. "However, we need to refocus because we have two more games this week. We can't let this win be the highlight of our season."

Novak suffered the loss. She allowed six hits, walked two and struck out 12.

Ratliff surrendered 12 hits, walked three and struck out four.

Monett will be in action on Thursday at Bolivar. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

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