Familiar foe awaits Monett softball
Marshfield looks to resolve unfinished business
It's a loss that Marshfield softball coach Jessica Gorham says is still fresh in the minds of her players.
Last year, the Lady Bluejays captured their first district title in school history to earn a sectional playoff berth against Monett. The Lady Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead, only to see Marshfield rally for two runs and have the tying or lead runners reach in the sixth and seventh innings
"We were one or two hits away from taking that game," Gorham said. "We are a different team this year. I think we've learned and grown from that experience."
Gorham, in her third season at the helm, was the assistant coach of the team for two seasons prior to that. Marshfield's lineup features five seniors that have led to the program's emergence.
"They were just sophomores when I took over," said Gorham. "We had a rough first season, but then pulled together and have put together two amazing runs."
Like Monett, the Lady Bluejays are built on defense and pitching. Paige Taylor will throw for Marshfield.
In last year's sectional, she allowed 5 hits, two earned runs, struck out 2 and walked none in seven innings.
"Paige is most effective when she hits her spots and moves the ball around," Gorham said. "Her game is keeping batters off balance."
Monett Coach Ty Goetz noted that the Lady Cubs have to be disciplined at the plate.
"[Paige] is a pitch-to-contact pitcher and she had us reaching last year," he said. "It will be important for us to stay back on her pitches and try to drive the ball."
Marshfield center fielder Sydney Adams, sets things up for the Lady Bluejay offense as their leadoff hitter.
"She is a tough out," Gorham said. "Sydney has a knack for getting on base and making things happen."
Marshfield tries to set the table for their cleanup hitter, Shelby Choate who has five home runs this season.
According to Gorham, the key to any Marshfield success is getting to Monett pitcher Allie Krueger.
"Krueger is a tremendous pitcher," Gorham said. "We have to put the ball in play and force them to play defense."
Wednesday's game will be the fourth consecutive sectional playoff game for most of the Lady Cubs. Monett is 3-1 under Goetz in the sectional round. The only blemish came four years ago in Nevada.
"I'm not worried about nerves or our focus," Goetz said. "These girls have played in so many big games they know and understand that they need to be ready to play."
One of Monett's keys to success has been its ability to steal bases and score runs early to put pressure on the other team.
This season, the Lady Cubs have swiped 108 bases in 115 attempts (94 percent).
"When you have someone like Brooke Madison, who is always running with her head up and looking to take an extra base, it is a big lift," Goetz said. "Any time you can force a team to make an extra throw, you increase the chance that they are going to make a mistake."
Goetz thinks his offense will be okay for Wednesday, and defensively, his team is solid.
"I like our chances to win if we can get a lead and turn the game over to Allie on the mound," he said.
First pitch at North Park is set for 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for ages 6 and up.