DUBOIS, Pa. – Moniteau prevailed in an offensively loaded back-and-forth contest, topping Keystone 16-13 to win the Class AA Softball title.
(Photo by: Jen Rottman)
Both teams exchanged the lead in the early innings, but Moniteau scored nine runs in the final three innings to take control of the game and claim the victory. Emma Covert had three hits and three RBI for Moniteau, while Courtney Stewart had three doubles and two RBI for the Warriors.
Keystone’s star hitter Natalie Bowser was intentionally walked four times, yet still managed to hit a home run in her lone chance to hit. Bowser took the loss on the mound for Keystone, pitching the final six frames, while Stewart took the win, pitching a complete game for Moniteau.
Moniteau started off the game with a four-run first, with a Covert 2-RBI single serving as the key hit of an inning in which Moniteau brought all nine hitters to the plate. Keystone quickly responded with a three-run bottom of the inning, taking advantage of walks to do the damage. Maddie Dunlap singled home Alexandria Johnston and Bowser with a two-run single in the frame.
Keystone continued their momentum into the second inning, taking advantage of a Leah Exley single and an error to seize a 6-4 lead. Bowser was intentionally walked for the second time in the game in the inning. Moniteau replied in the top of the third, stringing together five straight singles followed by a double to take a 7-6 lead. Brynne Barger and Taylor Schultz each had RBI in the inning.
Bowser finally got a pitch to hit in the third and took advantage, smacking a two-run home run to give the Panthers a 9-7 lead. Johnston drove in the opening run of the frame. Moniteau recaptured the lead in the top of the fifth, with Stewart and Covert each bringing in runs to give the Warriors a 10-9 advantage.
The back-and-forth nature of the game continued in the bottom of the inning, as Johnston led off the frame with a triple and scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at 10. The Warriors came up clutch in the sixth, scoring four runs to take a 14-10 lead. All four of Moniteau’s runs in the frame scored with two outs, with Stewart and Abby Rottman providing RBI.
Perhaps the most frantic play of the game happened in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Exley smashed a ball into the left-center field gap. Two runners came around to score easily, but Bowser, who was on first, hesitated rounding third. Moniteau attempted to throw to home to punish Bowser’s misstep, but the throw eluded the catcher, allowing Bowser to score. The overthrow caused Exley to attempt to score as well, but she was put out at the plate, preserving Moniteau’s 14-13 lead.
Moniteau would add some insurance in the top of the seventh, as Emily Staab and Rylee Hoffman each scored after singling, giving the Warriors a 16-13 lead. Dunlap would reach to begin the seventh for Keystone, but Stewart retired the next three Keystone batters to hold on for the 16-13 win.
Only Moniteau will advance to the PIAA Playoffs, as only one team from D9 in Class AA qualifies for the state tournament.