HANNIBAL — Monroe City left fielder Abigail Smith has been searching for her stroke at the plate going into Tuesday’s game against Hannibal at Veterans Softball Complex.
Smith found it, going 3-for-4 with a triple, run scored, stolen base and three RBIs in Monroe City’s 6-2 win.
“(Smith) is seeing the ball and making sure she’s swinging at strikes,” said Monroe City head coach Melissa Chinn. “That’s what happens when she hits because she is a very powerful hitter. Just making sure of pitch selection (when swinging). She had a great night and I’m proud of her.”
The Lady Panthers struck in the first inning when center fielder Carly Youngblood walked, stole second and was driven in by shortstop Mackenzie Moss.
Monroe City added another run in the second inning when Smith tripled and later scored on a passed ball.
Hannibal cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the second inning when second baseman Ryleigh Butler singled to drive in Gracey Whittaker. Butler would finish the game with two hits.
Butler has been splitting time with Rylee Culp in her first full season on the varsity team.
“Ryleigh Butler stepped up tonight,” said Hannibal head coach Andrew Pollard. “She’s a hard worker and she’s been a good leader in supporting this team. I was really happy to see her get that RBI and other hit.”
Neither team would score again until the fifth inning when Monroe City scored two runs when Smith singled to drive in Kailynn Fuemmeler and Jacie Johnson.
Smith once again singled in the top of the seventh to drive in Johnson. After Carly Youngblood walked to force in a run, Moss was called out on the infield fly rule and Smith was tagged out at home to end the frame in a strange manner.
“With the infield fly, it’s making sure our baserunners know,” Chinn said. “It’s one of those situations that happens very seldom and we talked about it. I think it will never happen again.”
The Lady Pirates added one more run in the bottom half of the seventh when Alyssa Hart hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Chloe Simms.
Unfortunately for Hannibal, Kylie McAfee was thrown out trying to advance to second base, ending the game.
“We had runners on (in most innings) and was not able to capitalize on it,” Pollard said. “We ran into some tough luck in that last inning with the sac fly and Kylie getting thrown out. That’s something we kind of have to do to produce runs.
Chinn praised her defense for playing good fundamental defense in the play to end the game.
“We hit our cutoff and the cut threw to second and tagged (McAfee) out,” Chinn said. “I thought it was a great heads up play. Great communication all the way around. Good way to end the game.”
Fuemmeler earned the win after going a full seven innings with seven strikeouts. She allowed seven hits, two walks and two earned runs.
“She’s just dynamite,” Chinn said. “She’s just coming into her own and she’s done a great job of just being herself on the mound. That’s all you can do. She’s shut down some good teams and has been working on the other ones.”
Hart also pitched a complete game with two strikeouts and was the losing pitcher. She allowed five walks, eight hits and five earned runs.
Pollard said Hart did a great job of eating innings and helping keep McAfee fresh for senior night on Wednesday.
“Alyssa was phenomenal,” Pollard said. “Kind of shaky at the beginning, but she settled in for awhile and the defense played solid behind her for the most part. I told her and the team that she did what we needed her to do.”
Hannibal (3-9) will host Clark County (5-7) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Pollard said he saw a lot of positives against a tough Monroe City team after being no-hit by Bowling Green on Monday.
“We hit the ball hard, made them make plays and did not have a lot of strikeouts,” Pollard said. “It’s a good thing to carry over into a good Clark County team tomorrow. If we can continue to do that, some calls and some plays will go our way and we will walk away with a W.”
Monroe City (5-4) will host South Shelby (3-6) on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Chinn will have her team work on defensive fundamentals and hitting in practice on Wednesday, leading up to Thursday’s conference game.
“The girls are excited to finally be able to be home,” Chinn said. “We just need to make sure that we keep going up every game.”