PHOTO: Erin Hosch winds and fires for Monticello June 17 against Central City. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Monticello stayed in control of its own softball destiny with four more Tri-Rivers Conference victories last week.
Overall, the Panthers (12-0, 19-4) had six games. Included were Tri-Rivers doubleheader sweeps of Central City and Starmont. Monticello and Cascade remained the only two unbeaten teams in the conference, and they were scheduled to meet in a June 24 double-header at Monticello.
The Panthers were also scheduled to play four games in the Linn-Mar tournament over the weekend, but poor weather shortened the event to two games, both of which the Panthers lost.
Central City paid a visit to Monticello June 17, and gave the Panthers trouble in the opening game of the doubleheader. The teams were scoreless after six innings, but the Wildcats made a pair of throwing errors in the bottom of the sixth, allowing Sonya McCormick to score the game’s only run in a 1-0 Monticello victory.
Erin Hosch pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out five. Central City got runners to third in two different innings, but Hosch was able to pitch out of those jams.
The Panthers met little resistance in the next three games. In the nightcap against Central City, Monticello won 13-2, as Kori Bohlken ended the game with a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning, her second home run of the game. She finished 3-for-3 with six runs batted in. Kennedy Kraus was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Hannah Thompson pitched four innings to get the win, and Mara Mescher pitched one.
“Overall, the girls did an excellent job on both sides of the ball,” Monticello coach Tiffany Rave said. “In game one it took our bats a little bit to get going, but we played solid defense all the way through.”
On Wednesday, June 19, the Panthers traveled to Starmont and outscored the Stars 36-2 in two games, both of which were shortened to three innings.
Monticello won the first one 16-0, getting just five hits but taking advantage of 13 walks. Hosch fired a two-hitter, striking out two.
The Panthers had 14 hits while winning the second game 20-2. Lael Lubben had a grand slam, and finished 1-for-2 with eight RBIs. Getting two hits apiece were Allison Kraus, Paxtyn Keleher, Andrea Bone and Hosch. Anna Finger and McCormick had doubles.
“Pitching and defense were great,” Rave said. “We were without an error physically or mentally in both games. It was also great to see our hitters stay patient in the box.”
The Linn-Mar tournament was supposed to begin Friday, June 21, but that day’s games were rained out, and moved to Saturday, and the originally scheduled Saturday games were cancelled.
Monticello played twice. The Panthers had a 3-0 lead against Bettendorf, but the Bulldogs came back with two runs in the bottom of the third inning and three more in the fifth. The game was stopped at that point due to a time limit, and Bettendorf came away with a 5-3 victory.
Monticello had seven hits; McCormick was 2-for-3. Hosch pitched and took the loss.
In the second game, Vinton-Shellsburg scored 10 runs over the final four innings to beat the Panthers 11-1. Monticello had six hits, including a double by Allison Kraus. Hosch and Thompson shared pitching duties.
“We faced some great competition,” Rave said,” and I think our bats responded well. We had solid at bats in both games.
“We took a lot of positive things out of this tournament, playing against some larger school and seeing situations that we had not been presented with yet.”