Billies shut out DeWitt for third conference win; softball also beats DeWitt to improve 4A-8 league position

For a game with few hits, Monticello got its production in a timely manner and bunched its runs in shutting out DeWitt 3-0 in a Class 4A, District 8 game on Thursday afternoon at the Monticello High School baseball field.

<span>The Billies plated runs only in the bottom of the fifth during the pitching duel but it was enough to improve their league record to 3-1 heading into spring break. Over the weekend, Monticello participated in the 2014 Los Toritos Spring Break Tournament in Star City, where the Billies placed sixth by going 1-2.</span>

<span>Friday night’s first-round game was an 8-0 loss to Parkers Chapel but on Saturday, Monticello dropped Marked Tree 7-0 to advance to a Monday afternoon game with Hamburg. In that game, Monticello was shut out for the second time in the three-day tournament. The Lions took fifth place with a 6-0 decision that dropped the Billies’ pre-spring break record to 6-4 overall.</span>

<span>After taking this week off, Monticello has three games next week. Following Monday, March 31’s non-league game at Fordyce, the Billies return to 4A-8 play in earnest as Warren visits on Tuesday, April 1 and Hamburg on Thursday, April 3.</span>

<span>Against DeWitt last Thursday, Monticello collected only four hits and left eight runners on base—including loading the bases in the third inning with only one out and getting no runs out of that situation. </span>

<span>“Leaving people on base has been our M.O,” Billies’ coach Jim Beasley said. “We’ve been leaving guys on and having opportunities but we haven’t been getting it done. We gave ourselves opportunities to win and, finally, we managed to get it done (Thursday). </span>

<span>“We’re a small-ball group; we like to bunt. I thought we did that well. And that was the kids doing that. I didn’t call those. But we work on that constantly.”</span>

<span>Monticello used three of its four hits in the decisive fifth inning. Junior Blake Holstead and senior Chris Kelley led off the bottom of the inning with back-to-back walks, two of the five free passes DeWitt pitching surrendered on the afternoon.</span>

<span>Senior Cody Pigott sacrificed the runners to second and third but, on the next at-bat, Holstead got caught in a rundown between third and home plate that turned into the first out on senior Eamon Borse’s bunt that turned into a fielder’s choice. Monticello ended the play with Kelley on third and Borse on second but still no runs. However, junior Peyton Merrell walked to load the bases before classmate Christian Paul delivered the game-winning single to left field, plating both Kelley and Borse.</span>

<span>Another junior, Ryan Case, gave the Billies some insurance with a bloop single to right field that scored Merrell. As it had before the Monticello rally, Billies’ pitching held the Dragons at bay for the win.</span>

<span>Senior Cooper Williams and Holstead combined to limit DeWitt to just three hits, while striking out seven batters, walking only two and stranding seven Dragons—allowing no DeWitt runner past second base.</span>

<span>“Blake did a fine job, and Cooper did good, too,” Beasley said of his pitchers. “They both stayed around the plate, didn’t throw a lot of pitches and they didn’t score any runs, so both did well. Both of those guys threw a lot Monday and were really sore Tuesday and Wednesday. </span>

<span>“I didn’t even think they’d be back today; I wasn’t counting on either of them. I was about go to a couple of sophomores today who had never pitched varsity ball, but I was about to throw them into the fire. We were about to do with what we had. But Cooper and Blake manned up and did a great job– and we played good defense as well.”</span>

<span><strong>Lady Billies</strong></span>

<span>Rolling past Class 4A, District 8 fo</span><span>e DeWitt 11-1 on Thursday afternoon across the parking lot from their baseball counterparts, the Monticello Lady Billies’ softball team finished its pre-spring break schedule with a 7-3 record overall. The win over the Dragonettes gave Monticello a 2-1 conference record.</span>

<span>Halley Ryburn was lights out in the circle for the Lady Billies, who scored four runs in each of the first two innings.  Senior Breanna Smith, who has signed to play at Southeastern Oklahoma State University next season, led the Lady Billies at the plate.</span>

<span>With Monticello scheduled to host the Class 4A State Softball Championships in early May, the Lady Billies are eyeing a trip (albeit a short one) to that tournament. Coach B.J. Jackson is preparing his team for that possibility by gettong his young players acclimated to 4A softball rather quickly.</span>

<span>Against DeWitt, Jackson had three freshman in his starting lineup and said all his youngsters are performing well so far.</span>

<span>Following a week off, the Lady Billies jump headlong into 4A-8 play with games at home against Warren on Tuesday and defending conference champion Hamburg on Thursday.</span>

<span>First pitch for both games is slated for 5 p.m.</span>

The Advance-Monticellonian

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