Prep softball: Fast-starting Eaton hands Monroe first SWBL defeat

Monroe second baseman Bri Rose (15) throws to first baseman Makenzi Moore for an out Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game against Eaton at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Monroe second baseman Bri Rose (15) throws to first baseman Makenzi Moore for an out Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game against Eaton at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

MONROE — Monroe High School’s margin of error has disappeared, right along with its perfect Southwestern Buckeye League softball record.

The Hornets are the two-time defending SWBL Southwestern Division champions, but they never had that look Wednesday against visiting Eaton.

Annika Gels fired a four-hitter as the Eagles, 2-0 losers to Monroe on Monday, put up three runs in the top of the first inning and powered their way to a 5-1 victory.

» PHOTOS: Rick Cassano’s 27-image gallery from Monroe

“All credit to Eaton,” Hornets coach Tim Kellis said. “We’re young, and I think that kind of reared its ugly head. We just didn’t play smart. But Eaton came out smoking. Gels got the better of us today.”

Monroe didn’t have a hit until Maddie Grace delivered a leadoff single in the fifth, and the hosts didn’t score until Sam Schwab singled and came home on a Bri Rose single in the seventh.

The Hornets fell to 12-2 overall and 8-1 in the SWBL, leaving them in a deadlock with Brookville atop the Southwestern standings. Eaton is 13-3, 7-3.

“I knew as soon as we came out and got those three runs that we pretty much had it. We could see them drop, and we were really up,” said Gels, a senior right-hander. “I was like, ‘All right, this is how it’s going to be today.’ We came here expecting that we were going to hit the ball, and that’s what we did.”

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Eaton catcher Becca Mowen grabs a foul popup Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Eaton catcher Becca Mowen grabs a foul popup Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Eaton catcher Becca Mowen grabs a foul popup Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Senior catcher Becca Mowen — like Gels, headed for Thomas More University in the fall — ripped a two-run double and Rilee Worley added an RBI single for Eaton in the first inning against Monroe ace Alyssa Wagner.

The Eagles tacked on two more runs with Worley’s two-run single in the fifth.

“We definitely felt like we were in control the entire game,” Eaton coach Maggie Neanen said. “We had a really good practice yesterday. We made adjustments at the plate. We knew we could hit her, and they came out and actually listened to me for once. They were locked in from the moment we got on the bus in Eaton.”

The Southwestern title remains a long shot for the Eagles, but that wasn’t their motivation Wednesday.

“A lot of things need to happen for us to win, but not letting them go undefeated is nice,” said Neanen, whose squad could see the Hornets again in the Division II postseason. “That’s a win itself, so we’ll take it.”

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Monroe first baseman Makenzi Moore puts a tag on Eaton’s Rilee Worley (42) on Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Monroe first baseman Makenzi Moore puts a tag on Eaton’s Rilee Worley (42) on Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Monroe first baseman Makenzi Moore puts a tag on Eaton’s Rilee Worley (42) on Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Gels reached base three times and had a double. Her left elbow got smacked by a Wagner pitch in the top of the seventh, and the elbow was heavily iced after the game.

“It’s not the greatest right now,” Gels admitted. “I think I’ll be all right. (The trainer) doesn’t think it’s broken or fractured, so we’ll see how it is in the morning.”

Gels said the pain did have an effect on her in the bottom of the seventh, but she plowed through it.

“For the first couple batters, I was a little iffy,” Gels said. “Then I just decided there was no way we were losing this game. You just have to block it out of your head and get the win.”

She collected eight strikeouts and had no walks in the circle. Wagner, a junior right-hander, pitched a six-hitter with 11 strikeouts and four walks.

“I’m going to give them credit,” Wagner said. “I could’ve been better for sure. Everyone can always improve. But I was still throwing my stuff. They just came out hot. We were a little off in the field today, which happens. We all make mistakes.

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Eaton’s Annika Gels is comforted by teammate Becca Mowen after getting hit by a pitch Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Eaton’s Annika Gels is comforted by teammate Becca Mowen after getting hit by a pitch Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Eaton’s Annika Gels is comforted by teammate Becca Mowen after getting hit by a pitch Wednesday during a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division softball game at Monroe. Eaton won 5-1. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

“We’re going to try to forget this one and come back and win the league. We’re going to keep working hard. Hopefully our fans will come out and support us next week. We love our fans.”

The Hornets’ roster includes six sophomores and two freshmen. First baseman Makenzi Moore and third baseman Sam Ross are the only two seniors.

Kellis said Eaton’s senior leadership — specifically Gels, Mowen and center fielder Emily Dungan — was a huge factor in Wednesday’s contest.

“I didn’t think Alyssa was as sharp as she has been, and I thought they did a nice job except for a couple of occasions not chasing bad pitches,” Kellis said. “They worked the count. They made her throw a lot of pitches. They did some adjusting. We didn’t.

“I thought Annika did a fantastic job tonight. You could see her thinking, ‘What pitch am I going to throw this kid? What pitch am I going to throw that kid?’ They were very well prepared, and we needed to be more mentally focused.”

Monroe has three league games remaining: Home against Oakwood on Thursday, at Oakwood on Monday and home against Brookville on Tuesday.

Eaton will host National Trail on Friday and still has to meet Bellbrook and Valley View in SWBL play.

Eaton 300-020-0—5-6-0

Monroe 000-000-1—1-4-2

WP — Annika Gels (12-3); LP — Alyssa Wagner (12-1). Records: E 13-3, 7-3 SWBL Southwestern; M 12-2, 8-1 SWBL Southwestern

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