MONROE CITY, Mo. — Abbey Hultz didn’t look at the scoreboard after giving up a home run to lead off the top of the seventh inning.
“I usually look down at the ground,” the Canton softball pitcher said. “I honestly thought that had tied the game up.”
Except the home run hit by Monroe City’s Emily Freidank only cut Canton’s lead to one run. When Hultz retired three of the next four batters she faced, she was genuinely surprised to learn Canton won 4-3 to win Saturday’s Monroe City Softball Tournament championship.
“I thought we were going to extra innings,” Hultz said. “Then my teammates yelled at me we won.”
Hultz didn’t realize she had a one-run cushion, but she had the mindset she couldn’t allow another run. That allowed her to escape without further damage.
“Considering we haven’t had close game yet this year, that was big to get that first out after (the home run),” Canton coach Jonathan Bastian said. “It started to get crazy, and the crowd was in it. She responded really well, and that’s how you beat the really good teams.”
Some clutch hitting helps, too.
The game was tied at 2-2 when Hunter Collins roped an RBI double to center that scored Hultz in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Tigers (5-0) added an insurance run in the sixth when Abby Jarvis scored on a passed ball.
That run was critical as Freidank smacked an 0-2 pitch over the fence in left field.
“She plays enough ball that she doesn’t play like a freshman,” Monroe City coach Melissa Chinn said. “She’s really confident in the way she plays, and I’m confident in her, too. We have several girls that are just hitting the ball really well right now, and I hope that continues.”
Monroe City (4-2) struck first in the top of the first inning when Lauren Youngblood stole second base, and was able to advance to more bases on an errant throw. Canton, however, answered with two runs in the second on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single.
Monroe City tied the game in the fourth on Freidank’s RBI single through the left side.
Freidank had two of Monroe City’s six hits. Jarvis had two of Canton’s eight hits.
“It’s just always a battle with Canton, and I love playing them because it seems to bring out the best in us,” Chinn said. “I think these games showed what we’re capable of, and I think the girls need to be proud of themselves.”
Canton thumped La Plata 16-1 in the semifinals as Collins went 4 for 4 with four RBIs. Hults, Jarvis and Tegan Burbridge all had two hits and combined for 10 RBIs.
Canton beat Brookfield 4-0 in the opening game as Hultz threw a one-hit shutout.
Monroe City topped Clark County 7-3 in the semifinals as Riley Quinn drove in three runs, and pitched five innings of one-hit softball. The Panthers opened the tournament with a 12-11 victory over South Shelby.
That game featured 37 hits. Madison Moss had four hits, while Danielle Pfanner and Quinn each had three for Monroe City. Quinn scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning.