AURORA — The Class 3, District 12 final Friday night proved to be both Dickens-esque and Shakespeare-esque,
The former because of the fact that McDonald County led Monett 12-1 after three innings, but a pair of five-run innings helped propel Monett into a 14-13 lead entering the bottom of the seventh.
The latter because Monett Lady Cubs head coach Ty Goetz faced the dilemma “To pitch, or not to pitch to Kylie Helm: that is the question” multiple times Friday and in the bottom of the seventh, Goetz pitched to Helm and she delivered a two-run home run for a 15-14 McDonald County victory.
The Lady Mustangs improved to 24-4 overall and won their second district title in three seasons, while the Lady Cubs — defending Class 3 state champions — saw their season end at 16-16.
McDonald County plays District 11 champion Bolivar (20-6) in the sectionals Wednesday.
The teams faced horrible conditions for pitching — a persistent rain meant a new ball after every pitch and that means very little opportunity for a pitcher to develop any sort of rhythm.
Monett pitchers Kassie McCallister and Caitlyn Calhoun combined for 12 walks, McCallister seven and Calhoun five, and most of them came in a nine-run third for the Lady Mustangs that produced a 12-1 advantage. In that disastrous inning for the Lady Cubs, Monett pitchers walked eight straight hitters beginning with an intentional walk to Helm and continuing against Alexa Hopkins, Madeline McCall, Kristen Cornell, Kaylee Eberley, Leslie Yousey, Rita Santillan, and Chloe Colvin. Alexa Hopkins wrapped up the nine-run inning with a two-run double.
Monett rallied with five runs in the fourth, five in the sixth, and three in the seventh.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Whitney Kinser reached on an error and that’s when Helm made the Lady Cubs pay dearly.
Helm started the scoring for the Lady Mustangs with a three-run homer in the first. McDonald County’s outstanding catcher homered twice Friday and four times overall in two district games.
Helm led the Lady Mustangs with four runs scored, two hits, and five RBI, while the trio of Santillan, Colvin, and Kinser each scored two runs and McCall, Cornell, Leslie Yousey, Eberley, and Caitlin Hall each crossed home plate once. Santillan, Kinser, Hopkins, Kaylee Cornell, and Yousey rounded out the seven hits. Hopkins drove in two runs and Santillan, Colvin, Kinser, and both Cornells picked up single RBI.
Hopkins earned the win in relief of McCall, who surrendered one run (earned) on two hits and two walks in her four batters faced to start the game. Hopkins allowed 13 runs (five earned) on 14 hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.
What hurt the Lady Mustangs and helped the Lady Cubs make their comeback were four errors.
Monett displayed its bats with eight doubles: two each by Maddie Coones and Kelli McAllister and one each by Katie Schmidt, Kaesha George, Kassie McCallister, and Abby McAffrey.
Coones led Monett’s 16-hit attack with four, while Kelli McCallister finished with three and George, Kassie McCallister, Schmidt, and Taylor Southard each added two hits. Kelli and Kassie McCallister combined for six RBI, three each, and Coones drove in two runs. George scored four runs and Coones and Kelli McCallister each crossed home plate thrice.