Indeed, Monroe got a two-out, two-run homer from senior shortstop Alexis Arnold in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sam Schwab and Sam Key then singled before Ashley McNabb grounded out to finish the run-rule affair.
“We still felt like we had a shot because we were down earlier in the year to Preble (Shawnee) 8-0 going into the sixth and came back and won 9-8,” Hornets coach Tim Kellis said. “McNabb has been one of our hottest hitters this past month. She gets a hit, we’re still playing and we’ve still got six outs left.”
Kellis choked up as he talked about his six seniors: Arnold, Key, Jillian Taylor, Hunter Salyers, Sarah Eschmeyer and Dee Henry.
“The toughest part for me is saying goodbye to this senior class,” Kellis said. “When they came in, Monroe was pretty much dead last in the (Southwestern Buckeye League) or right near it. These kids turned it around. Two league titles, three sectional finals, one trip to the district. They’ve put us back in the mix.
“This one will sting, but they’ll get over it. They gave us all they had for four years. All six of them will be really successful people.”
Said Arnold, “Team 79 will forever hold a special place in my heart. I’ll never forget this team. I couldn’t be happier about my time at Monroe.”
Monroe (23-3) committed four errors Wednesday, but the third-seeded Falcons (26-1) also did plenty of hitting and got a solid effort from Taylor Florea in the circle.
Massie scored an unearned run in the second inning, then put up 11 runs on all 14 of its hits in the last three frames. No. 9 hitter Ashlie Miller smacked a two-run homer to highlight the Falcons’ five-run third.
“It just goes with what we’ve done all year,” Massie coach Anthony Lauer said. “We were prepared yesterday. As soon as I made contact with them after school (Wednesday), I knew we were ready. I knew that their intensity level was there and there was no stopping us.”
Lindsey Amberger, Kelsey Carter and Claire Carruthers drove in two runs apiece for the Falcons. Amberger had three hits, Florea, Miller, Lindsey Carter and Kelsey Carter all added two hits, and Victoria Sivert and Madilyn Newton each plated a run.
Massie advances to face Ross for a district championship at 5 p.m. on Friday at Mason. The Rams beat the Falcons 4-0 on Kaitlyn Justice's seventh-inning grand slam in last year's district finals.
“I won’t lie. We wanted a rematch with Ross this year,” Lauer said. “We always set the league as our first goal, but this year we didn’t. We said our first goal is hopefully we get a rematch with Ross.
“When the tournament draw came this year, I was kind of put in a little bit of a situation with the seeding that we got. But I took my chance because I was hoping that maybe Ross was going to come out of that lower bracket. They’re not the same team as last year, but obviously they’re going to the district championship, which means they’re a good team.”
Florea pitched an eight-hitter with five strikeouts against the Hornets, who stranded seven runners. Arnold and Hensley both collected two hits.
Arnold’s long ball in the fifth was a no-doubter to center field. It was her eighth homer of the season.
“I just told myself, ‘I’m not being the last out, I’m not being the last out,’ ” said Arnold, who will continue her career at Georgetown (Ky.) College. “It was something for the better, but not enough.”
Freshman Alyssa Wagner threw four-plus innings and took the loss for Monroe. Salyers finished in the circle.
“They were hitting the ball hard,” Hensley said. “We made some defensive errors, and I think that shut some heads down and got us a little out of the game.”
“The electric atmosphere last night I thought was good. Today, we just picked a bad day to play a bad game,” Kellis said. “A lot of credit goes to Massie. They’re solid. They had a lot of Texas Leaguers, and you can’t fault your pitchers for that. I think a couple were with two strikes on the batter. Some days it goes your way, some days it doesn’t.”
WP — Taylor Florea (22-1); LP — Alyssa Wagner (15-2); HR — C: Ashlie Miller; M: Alexis Arnold. Records: C 26-1, M 23-3