A special season for the Monroe City softball team became even more so with a dramatic win over Palmyra on Thursday night.
Walk-off heroics capped a three-run bottom of the seventh inning to propel Monroe City past its rival 5-4 in a Class 2 District 6 semifinal at Flower City Park in Palmyra.
Bailee Hays delivered a single with two outs to drive in Skyler Kauble for the game-winning run.
Kauble tied the game with a two-run single earlier in the inning. Savannah Hetzler (single) and Lauren Youngblood (walk) scored on Kauble's clutch hit to erase a 4-2 deficit.
"The girls just did the job," Monroe City coach Melissa Chinn said of the thrilling comeback. "We could not have been in a better spot in the lineup. Our 1 through 5 hitters have produced all year. They knew what needed to be done."
Palmyra led much of the night, jumping ahead in the first inning when Morgan Ingram reached on an error to score Bailey Lovelace. Megan Stone circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the fifth to make it 2-0.
Monroe City responded for five runs over the final two innings. The comeback was ignited when Kauble hit an RBI double and scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth.
Palmyra plated a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to retake a short-lived advantage. Lexi Arch hit a double to score Raney Wilson and Stone, breaking the 2-all deadlock.
Leading 4-2, Palmyra was three outs away from a win.
"We were feeling pretty good at that point," said Palmyra coach Jill Arch.
But it was Monroe City that felt good by the end of the night.
Afterward, a visibly drained coach Arch, who spent about 15 minutes with her disappointed players, praised the game played by her team, which finished the campaign with an 11-14 record.
"It’s been that kind of season," the coach said. "We had our ups and downs. We were never consistent, and it showed out here tonight. We have one of the best defenses, but Monroe City has a lot of good hitters and they found the holes in our defense."
McKenzie West pitched a complete game for Monroe City. The senior surrendered two earned runs (four total), struck out seven and scattered five hits.
Lauren Van Tress pitched 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight and allowing three earned runs (five total) to take the loss. Lydia Althoff entered the game in relief to record all three outs in the sixth, and Van Tress returned to the circle for the seventh.
Monroe City (16-3) is scheduled to play for the district championship in Palmyra at 1 p.m. on Saturday against top-seeded Highland, which advanced to the final by beating Macon 7-2.
Highland handed Monroe City its worst defeat and only shutout of the regular season by a score of 10-0 on Oct. 1.
Thanks to the seventh-inning comeback, the rematch is set.
"They all wanted another shot at Highland," Chinn said of her players.