"I think we went into a few games last year hoping to win," said Monett coach Ty Goetz. "We knew that everyone would be back this season and we weren't as determined as I thought we could have been. This year, with the aid of senior leadership, we have gone into games expecting to win."
Tonight the Lady Cubs will host the Bolivar Lady Liberators (20-9) in the Class 3 sectional playoffs at North Park at Monett.
"We are not a flashy team," said Bolivar coach Jay Halbrook. "We try to take a businessman-like approach to every game. We have to do the small things right in order to have success. I believe Monett has a class act program and we are in for a good game."
The two teams clashed on Sept. 13 with Monett prevailing 11-10. Monett hit three homeruns in the contest.
"Monett does a good job of putting the ball in play," said Halbrook. "We have to show up and compete. When we played the Lady Cubs earlier this season we took a 6- 3 lead, but Monett looked more relaxed and just kept chipping away and took the game."
Bolivar will throw pitching ace Trista Patton (20-8). She has thrown 181 and two-thirds innings, struck out 159 and has a 2.38 ERA.
Patton is also dominat at the plate. She is hitting .516 with 8 homeruns, 42 RBIs and 28 runs scored.
Bolivar's other big bat is the coach's daughter Jaelyn Halbrook. Jaylen is hitting .469 with 13 RBI and 37 runs scored.
Monett will counter with Allie Krueger on the mound. Krueger is 8-3 on the season and has thrown 64.2 innings, while striking out 93 batters and has a 2.38 ERA.
As a team, the Lady Cubs are hitting .322. Of the nine hitters Monett will send to the plate, seven are hitting over .300.
"We have played in several big games this year," said Goetz. "The big key for us is to settle into the game and make plays."
Bolivar keys to victory.
* Keep hitters off-balance. Bolivar gave up 11 runs to Monett in their matchup earlier this season, they can not afford to do that again.
* Put the ball in play. The Libarators want to force the Monett defense make plays to get them out.
* Match up. Coach Halbrook thought that his team didn't give maximum effort the first time they played Monett. He wants his team to know that it is either win or go home.
Monett keys to victory
* Score early. Monett wants to put pressure on Bolivar early by forcing the Lady Liberators to play catch up. A hitter mindset tends to change when her team is down by three or more runs.
* Make plays. The Monett defense has been solid nearly the entire year. In their five losses, first inning defensive miscues have hurt the Lady Cubs.
* Run, run and then run some more. The Lady Cubs have swiped a school record 129 bases this season. Look for Monett to be active and aggressive on the base paths.
* Have fun. This goes without saying, but with the playoffs come nerves. Monett must settle down enjoy the game and have fun.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m.