Through six innings, Hannibal hurler Desarae Garcia silenced Monroe City.
Then Lady Panthers coach Rick Baker spoke up and made sure his message was received loud and clear just before the first pitch of the seventh inning.
Monroe City responded with two runs in the frame to force extra innings before eventually coming away with a 7-6 win over the host Lady Pirates in nine innings.
“Aw man, whenever coach Baker says something you listen,” Lady Panther senior Haleigh St. Clair said with a chuckle. “Whenever he says something, he is serious. It’s just how he is. He is probably our biggest motivator.”
Skyler Kauble started the seventh-inning rally with a triple to left field. After Rachel Smith worked a walk, Garcia bounced back with a ground out and pop out. St. Clair was the last hope for the Lady Panthers. She came through with a bloop 2-run double to shallow right field to tie the game.
“It was pure luck,” St. Clair admitted. “I thought it was going to be caught, but it got to where it needed to be and it worked out.”
McKenzie West pitched a perfect seventh inning for Monroe City as the game went into extra innings.
Then a little bit of everything happend.
Grace Arnold reached second on a fielding error and throwing error, and came around to score on West’s RBI single to right center.
After West scored on another Lady Pirate error, Bailee Hays extended the Panthers lead to 5-2 with a sacrifice bunt, scoring Lauren Youngblood.
Rachel Smith would score the Panthers fourth run of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Riley Quinn.
But Hannibal would not go away.
A pair of errors aided the Lady Pirates first three runs of the inning before
Tori Moore tied the game with a 2-out RBI single.
“We have shown several times already this year the determination to stay in a game after getting down a few runs,” Hannibal coach Kendra Murphy said of the Lady Pirates eighth-inning rally. “I don’t ever judge how much they want it. It’s just making sure we play a solid seven innings and not letting it happen again.”
West quickly placed the momentum back on the Panthers side in the ninth inning. The Lady Panthers junior smacked a triple leading off the frame. Lauren Youngblood then delivered the game-winning sacrifice fly to center.
But again, Hannibal threatened the home half of the inning. A 2-out throwing error and a walk gave the Lady Pirates life. West then got the final out as the Lady Panthers improved to 9-1 on the season.
“Just a crazy game,” Monroe City coach Melissa Chinn said. “But that is exactly what you play the game for. She (Garcia) shut us down most of the game, we just could not get anything going, but all it takes is one person to get us going. Those two runs were huge to just give us a chance of waking up and doing our thing.”
Prior to the seventh inning, Garcia limited the Panthers to just one hit — an infield single to West.
“Just like everyone else, up until the seventh inning she really hadn’t made a mistake,” Murphy said of her ace pitcher. “But even after they scored, she kept her composure throughout.”
Josie Zeiger led a 9-hit offensive attack for Hannibal with a 3-for-5 night at the dish. Lauran Haye added a pair of knocks in four trips to the plate.
West paced the Lady Panthers offense with a trio of hits in five plate appearances, while St. Clair added two hits in the win.
Eight of the Lady Panthers nine batters came up with either a hit, RBI or run scored in the win.
“It is a fun night when we can have every single person contribute,” Chinn noted. “And that’s what they are doing not only tonight, but throughout the season.”