By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY With a 7-4 victory over the visiting Liberty Lady Indians on Wednesday afternoon at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley, the Monticello Lady Panthers earned their first win of this softball season.
The win was also Monticello’s first since the 2009 season.
The Lady Panthers ended the lengthy losing streak with good pitching and defense and some timely hits.
Monticello took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Taylor Reardon reached base with a one-out single and the next batter, Paulina Pavese, walked to put two runners on base. Sam McCreery then moved her teammates over to second base and third base with a sacrifice bunt.
Reardon scored on an error and Pavese crossed the plate when Shannon Reese singled to center field.
Reese gave the Lady Panthers their third run of the inning when she scored as Lacey Gray was tagged out in a rundown between first base and second base.
Liberty (0-3) scored its first run in the top of the third. With one out, Paulina Kleinberger singled. She moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jasmine Howard.
The next batter, Paige LaPolt, struck out, but reached first base safely on a dropped third strike. As LaPolt beat the throw to first base, Kleinberger scored to cut the Monticello lead to 3-1.
However, Monticello (1-3) answered with four runs in the bottom of the third.
Jamie Vandermeulen singled to center field, which allowed teammates Sam Cohn and Caitlin Bonnaci to cross home plate.
Moments later, Vandermeulen gave the Lady Panthers a 6-1 advantage as she scored when Pavese grounded out.
Reardon, who reached base on an error, scored on an error just seconds after Vandermeulen crossed the plate.
The Lady Indians closed to within 7-3 with two runs in the top of the fourth. The first batter of the inning, Olivia Baum, walked, stole second base and moved to third base on a single by Ashley Wallgren. Baum then scored on a passed ball.
Wallgren scored on a groundout by Sierra Boxberger.
Liberty closed its deficit to 7-4 in the top of the fifth. Howard walked to begin the frame and later scored on a single by Wallgren.
The Lady Indians tried to rally in the top of the seventh.
After Monticello pitcher Cohn got the first two batters to ground out and strike out, respectively, Baum hit a groundball to second base. She then sprinted down the line and dove into first base, touching the base a second before Monticello second baseman Taylor Welch, who had the ball in her glove, touched the base.
Wallgren then singled to right field. After Baum and Wallgren moved to third base and second base, respectively, on a wild pitch, Cohn got a groundout to end the game.
“It’s nice to get that first win,” said Monticello Coach Shannon Dietrich, who is in her first season of guiding the Lady Panthers varsity team after coaching the school’s junior varsity team. “It’s been a long two years. I am happy for the players. All of their hard work is paying off and they deserve this win. The seniors are very happy to get a win.”
“Everybody did well today,” Dietrich added.
She also noted that the pitching by Cohn, a junior right-hander, was key for the Lady Panthers.
“Sam Cohn did a great job today,” Dietrich said. “When she’s on like she was today, we play very well on defense and support her.”
Liberty Coach Matt Stoddard noted that Monticello played very well.
“They scored all of their runs with two big innings,” he said.
Stoddard also praised his team.
“This is only our third game of the season,” he said. “We have only been outside for a few times to practice and for games.”
While the Lady Indians are still looking for their first win of 2011, Stoddard is pleased with the players for improving with each game.
“Our effort was great today,” he said. “We played 1000 percent better than we did yesterday.”
Stoddard was referring to Tuesday afternoon, when Cornwall defeated Liberty, 19-0, in a non-league game.