Highland scored an unearned run to edge Monroe City 1-0 in the Class 2 District 7 semifinals.
Those are the words Monroe City coach Melissa Chinn used to sum up the Lady Panthers' 1-0 loss to Highland in the Class 2 District 7 Tournament at Lions Club Park Thursday night.
Highland scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning for the only tally of the game.
“I didn’t want it to end like this,” an emotional Chinn said. “But that’s how it goes sometimes. Great teams take advantage of your mistakes and that is exactly what Highland did tonight.”
Brooke Miller started the Highland second frame with an infield single. Kennedy Flanagan then laid down a sacrifice bunt but the Lady Panthers made a throwing error, allowing Miller to race around to third base with no outs.
Addy Johnson followed with a fielder's choice groundout, scoring Miller.
Lauren Merrell did the rest.
The Highland ace fanned 12 batters in the game and scattered three hits.
“Lauren was just phenomenal,” Highland coach Paul Scifres said. “For whatever reason they (Monroe City) were having problems putting the bat on the ball. She had a lot of swings and misses tonight and it was fun seeing her enjoy it out there.”
Skyler Kauble nearly tied the game in the top of the sixth inning. The Lady Panthers No. 3 hitter smacked a double off the fence in left-center field with one out.
But Merrell got a lineout and a strikeout to end the inning.
“Monroe City has a great lineup and Kauble was one player we did not want to beat us,” the Cougars coach said. “And I thought for a second she tied it up.”
Monroe City also missed out on chances in the third and seventh innings.
Grace Arnold led off the third inning with a single. Two batters later McKenzie West worked a 1-out walk giving the Lady Panthers two on.
Again Merrell got out of the jam with a strikeout and a fly out.
In the seventh, Riley Quinn reached on a dropped fly ball to start the inning. Haleigh St. Clair laid down a sacrifice bunt moving Quinn into scoring position with just one out.
Merrell recorded the final two outs with her 11th and 12th punchouts of the game.
“We had runners on but we just couldn’t take advantage when we needed to the most,” Chinn said. “And our big guns who usually produce, didn’t tonight.”
West was the tough-luck loser. The Lady Panther ace allowed just one hit and she struck out three.
Highland advances to the district championship game against Palmyra on Saturday.
Monroe City ends its season with a 20-4 record.
“You can’t beat that,” Chinn said of the season the Panthers had. “Yeah, this (district) is what you play for at the end of the season, but we had a great season. I am proud of our girls, extremely proud.”