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Moniteau’s Mariska Shunk Tosses One-hit Shutout as Warriors Down Union/A-C Valley

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — A spring trip to Myrtle Beach yielded some lopsided results for the Moniteau softball team.

But the lumps the Warriors took served a purpose for when they returned north and — finally — hit the field.

That day came on a mild Tuesday afternoon on their home field. Those tough days south were long forgotten with a 13-0, five-inning win over Union/A-C Valley.

“It was valuable (going south) because we were shifting kids around to see how best the puzzle fits together for us,” said Moniteau coach Bob Rottman. “Even though some girls were returning, they might have to move based on who’s coming in to replace the girls who we lost. We were just trying to make our team as solid as we can. They got to see some good pitching.”

“It helped a lot with defense and offense both,” said Mariska Shunk, “and coming together as a team.”

That, though, was nearly two weeks ago — Moniteau’s last game before Tuesday was played on March 27.

Moniteau showed little rust.

Shunk was sharp, giving up just one hit while striking out five in five shutout innings. She threw just 63 pitches, 44 for strikes.

Shunk was effective at dropping her curveball on the outside corner to Union/A-C Valley right-handed hitters with precision.

“All of my pitches were working today,” Shunk said. “My curve, outside low, is probably my favorite pitch to throw.”

She was confounding a potent Union/A-C Valley lineup all afternoon.

Rylan Strauser had the only hit against Shunk, a single in the top of the fourth.

“My individual goal is to pitch a no-hitter,” Shunk said. “I fell short of it. Our team goal is to win the medal.”

That medal would be the District 9 one.

For now, Shunk and the Warriors will take wins like this one.

Addy Williams drove in three, leadoff hitter Ashley Huffman drew three walks and scored three runs and Taylor Grace also had a pair of RBIs for Moniteau’s balanced attack.

The Warriors scored twice in each of the first and second innings, tacked on three more in the bottom of the third for a 7-0 lead and then broke the game open with a six-spot in the fourth.

Errors doomed Union/A-C Valley, which committed five. Only seven of the 13 runs pitchers Emerson Stevens and Magen Walzak gave up were earned.

“That’s killing us,” said Union/A-C Valley coach Lauren McNany of the miscues. “In all of those innings, there were two out and we couldn’t get the last one. That’s what we’re running into a lot.”

Perhaps more disappointing for McNany was the lack of offensive output.

Most of the players return from a team that averaged more than nine runs per game last season.

Of course, they ran into a buzz saw in Shunk.

“We’re hitting home run after home run in practice, so I’m not worried about the bats,” McNany said. “This is just timing and mental. Our swings are fine.”

There were a lot of fine things for Rottman to count from his team’s performance.

Moniteau committed just one error behind Shunk and also came up with timely hits. The Warriors were also patient at the plate, drawing seven walks.

“We played a good game,” Rottman said. “Our defense was great and Mariska was awesome. I’ll take this every day. We put the ball in play. We want to pass the bat, let the next hitter do her job and then the next one do theirs. That’s kind of how we go. That’s our approach.”