Lady Billies earn trip to state tournament
The Monticello Lady Billies needed a Sylvan Hills loss and a sweep in a double header with North Pulaski Tuesday, April 21, to earn a trip to the 5A state tournament.
They got both.
Jessica Cruce drove in the lone run and tossed a four-hit shutout to help Monticello take game one 1-0. She struck out 12 Lady Falcons and accounted for one of just three Monticello hits in the game when she drove in Lauren Brewer in the first inning.
Cruce earned the victory in game two as well, surrendering just three runs as the Lady Billies got aggressive on the base paths to take game two 9-3.
Madelynn Gates wreaked havoc on the bases, scoring all three times she reached base.
Kim Moore hit two doubles to help the cause.
Monticello took an early 1-0 lead on a fielder’s choice from Klaire Wilson in the top half of the second inning.
North Pulaski fired back in the bottom half of the inning with the help of a Monticello error. The error was followed by two consecutive hits, one a double, which gave the Lady Falcons their first and only lead of the day, 2-1.
Parker Palsa led off Monticello’s third inning with a base knock and advanced to second when the North Pulaski right fielder overran the ball. Gina Johnson singled behind Palsa to tie the game at 2-2, and advanced to third base on the throw home.
Brewer’s groundout scored Johnson as she beat the throw home from first base, sliding under the catcher to take back the lead.
Moore followed with her first double of the game, a screaming line drive over the head of the North Pulaski left fielder. She later scored on a bunt laid perfectly down the third base line by Wilson to give the Lady Billies a 4-2 advantage.
Monticello added to its lead in the fourth inning as Gates beat out a bunt and stole second base. She later scored on a North Pulaski error for a 5-2 Monticello lead.
North Pulaski manufactured a run in the bottom of the fourth as Cruce hit the lead-off batter in the inning and gave up a single later in the inning to cut Monticello’s lead to 5-3.
Another bunt single from Gates got things going for Monticello in the sixth inning.
She promptly stole second base again, then advanced to third on the throw trying to get her. Johnson brought Gates home with a single to left field.
Brewer followed with an infield single then Moore hit a high fly ball to right center field that was dropped by North Pulaski to allow Johnson to score and give Monticello a 7-3 lead.
Gates got her third hit and her third stolen base of the game in the seventh inning to spark another scoring burst from Monticello.
Two consecutive North Pulaski errors allowed Gates to score. Moore hit her second double of the game later in the inning, a long drive over the head of the North Pulaski center fielder, to plate Palsa for the Lady Billies’ last run of the game.