BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — On a somber bus ride home following an 11-0 loss to Cranberry in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals, the Moniteau softball team vowed to regroup.
The Warriors were still alive, but on life support.
The road would be a difficult one.
They needed two wins against two very good teams on back-to-back days. Do-or-die.
(Pictured above, members of the Moniteau softball team are all smiles after beating Curwensville to win District 9 Class 2A silver medals and move on to the PIAA playoffs)
“We knew we just had an off game,” said senior Emma Covert of the loss to the eventual D9 champ Berries. “We didn’t hit the ball and when you don’t hit the ball, you can’t win. We know we can hit the ball.”
Moniteau did just that against Johnsonburg on Monday, pulling out a 7-4 victory after trailing 3-0 to set up a showdown with Curwensville in a true-second-place game on Tuesday afternoon at Brockway.
Again, the Warriors rallied from an early deficit, leading 5-2 after three innings.
They lost the lead, tied the game, and finally reclaimed the advantage for good on a clutch single by Brianna Rottman, and then punctuated the 10-6 win with a two-run triple off the bat of Covert in the top of the eighth to move on to the PIAA playoffs next week.
“I’m very proud because this year we’ve really pulled together as a team and we work together,” Covert said. “We have a lot of good talent on our team, but our talent takes us nowhere if we don’t work together.”
Moniteau coach Bob Rottman whipped up a strategy against Curwensville hard-throwing pitcher Addison Siple.
The Warriors were going to try to put the ball in play — by any means necessary.
That meant a lot of slapping. A lot of bunting.
The gameplan worked.
Moniteau put tremendous pressure on the Tide defense and forced mistakes. The Warriors capitalized on them.
“We haven’t seen that kind of velocity in awhile,” Rottman said. “We used the small-ball game. It came up big. We forced them to make plays, put them under pressure. Most of our runs were scored from our slaps and bunts. Any time you have a strong pitcher like that, you gotta get her out of the circle and fielding balls. You gotta get her uncomfortable.”
Siple was still strong. She have up 10 runs, but only one of those runs was earned. She gave up seven hits and struck out nine.
Covert, though, delivered two big hits — a RBI double that knotted the game at 6-6 in the top of the seventh to force extra innings and then her two-run triple in the eighth.
Covert had been in a mini-slump before breaking out late against Curwensville.
“It was good knowing my team was able to carry on without me,” Covert said. “It’s a good feeling knowing everyone can contribute.”
Moniteau will play District 10 champion Sharpsville on Monday to open the state playoffs.
“I’m very proud of them,” Rottman said. “They’ve shown that fight all year. That game against Cranberry, that one hurt. But they didn’t give up. They came back and beat two very good teams. They’ve fought back all year. That’s the pure determination and heart that they have. They didn’t want it to be over.”