Panthers break in new field with walkoff win over NC

Panther shortstop Tori McDonald fires to first after fielding a grounder in the Bellevue game. (Photos by Pete Temple)

School administrators, school board members, coaches and players were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Monticello High School’s new softball field. Taking part were, first row from left: Panther softball team members Lydia Lange, Kendall Ruden, Mallory Steiner, Jaelyn Aitchison, Brea Stahlberg, Hayley Manternach, Kylie Van Dorn, Reese Cox, Piper Hansen, Emma Sperfslage, DeLainy Fellinger, Karle Kramer, Tori McDonald, Keziah McQuillen and Katie Roher. Second row: Jan Hoag, Brian Jaeger, Kim McQuillen, Joan Young, Tim Lambert, Dennis Dirks, Craig Stadtmueller, school board president John Schlarmann (who cut the ribbon), Gerald Retzlaff, Pat Recker, Suzan Ehlers, Tina McDonough, Angie McDonough and Bret McDonald. (Photos by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     The game-winning double was a big one for Monticello softball center fielder Jaelyn Aitchison.

     After all, the freshman had struck out and flied out her first two times up in the Panthers’ June 25 home game against North Cedar.

     “I was really trying to put my last two at bats behind me,” Aitchison said. “I was looking for the first strike. If it was there I was going to drive it.”

     That she did, roping a single to left field that brought Katie Roher home with the winning run. It gave the Panthers a 3-2 walkoff victory over North Cedar – the first Monticello win of this abbreviated season, taking place in the Panthers’ first-ever home game on their new field.

     The diamond, which at this point doesn’t have a name but as a youth field had been referred to as West Field, was dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony prior to the varsity contest against the Knights.

     Then the Panthers christened it as they hoped they would, with a victory.

     “We were all really happy that we didn’t give up on each other,” Aitchison said.

     Monticello (1-4) had to come from behind twice to win it.

     “It was good to see the kids bounce back and have some resilience so we could get that much-needed win,” Monticello coach Bret McDonald said.

     The teams traded single runs in the third inning – Monticello’s score came on an RBI single by Keziah McQuillen.

     The Knights took a 2-1 lead in the fourth, and the Panthers responded with DeLainy Fellinger’s run-scoring hit in the bottom of the sixth, after Reese Cox had singled and stolen second base.

     In the seventh, Roher and Piper Hansen led off with back-to-back singles. Following an out, McQuillen singled to load the bases, bringing Aitchison to the plate for her game-clinching hit.

     Mallory Steiner had a strong pitching performance, allowing six hits, striking out six and walking one to get her first win of the season. McQuillen finished 2-for-3 at the plate.

     The Panthers were on the other end of a tight game on Friday, June 26, losing a 9-8 heartbreaker to visiting Bellevue.

     As they have a few times already this season, the Panthers found themselves trailing against the Comets, who scored two runs in the first inning and four in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead.

     Monticello has also shown the ability to come back, and almost did so again. The Panthers scored five in the bottom of the fourth to cut the margin to 6-5, as Tori McDonald, Piper Hansen, Brea Stahlberg and McQuillen each drove in a run.

     Bellevue struck back quickly, however, with a three-run fifth inning and a 9-5 lead. The Panthers picked up two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh, but couldn’t quite catch up.

     “When you score eight runs, you figure you should have a pretty good chance to win the game,” coach McDonald said. “But the defense didn’t supplement what we did on offense.”

     Monticello had nine hits, with Cox and Roher each going 2-for-4. Piper Hansen drove in two runs. Cox was the starting pitcher, and took the loss. Steiner pitched the final five innings.


June 25

Monticello 3, North Cedar 2

MONTICELLO                            AB    R     H     BI

Aitchison cf                                   4      0      1      1

Cox lf                                            2      1      1      0

Steiner p                                       3      0      0      0

Fellinger c                                     3      0      1      1

Kramer cr                                      0      0      0      0

McDonald ss                                 2      0      0      0

Roher 3b                                       3      1      1      0

Hansen, P. 2b                                3      1      1      0

Stahlberg 1b                                  2      0      0      0

McQuillen rf                                   3      0      2      1

Totals                                           25     3      7      3

North Cedar                001  100  0   –    2      6      1

Monticello                    001  001  1   –    3      7      0

One out when winning run scored.

LOB – Monticello 6, North Cedar 5.

2B – Aitchison.

SB – Cox, Kramer, McQuillen.

Monticello                       IP     H     R    ER   BB   SO

Steiner (W, 1-2)                7      6      2      2      1      6

Totals                               7      6      2      2      1      6


June 26

Bellevue 9, Monticello 8

MONTICELLO                            AB     R     H     BI

Aitchison cf                                    3      1      0      0

Cox p                                             4      1      2      1

Steiner 1b                                      4      0      0      0

Kramer cr                                       0      0      0      0

Fellinger c                                      4      1      1      0

McDonald ss                                  3      2      1      1

Roher 3b                                        4      1      2      0

Hansen, P. rf                                   4      1      1      2

Stahlberg dp                                   3      1      1      1

McQuillen lf                                     4      0      1      1

Mescher 2b                                     0      0      0      0

Totals                                             33     8      9      6

Bellevue                       200  430  0   –    9      6      4

Monticello                     000  502  1   –    8      9      5

LOB – Monticello 7, Bellevue 6.

SB – Aitchison, Cox, Fellinger, Roher.

Monticello                          IP      H     R    ER   BB   SO

Cox (L, 0-2)                          2      1      2      1      1      0

Steiner                                  5      5      7      2      3      3

Totals                                   7      6      9      3      4      3



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