After losses to Mohawk in each of the last two years, the Monroeville softball team got the monkey off its back — but did it in the most unlikely of scenarios.
The Eagles scored four runs in the fifth inning and added five more runs in the sixth to top Mohawk, 9-5, in a Division IV district semifinal on Tuesday at Shelby High School.
"The girls made adjustments — great adjustments," Monroeville coach Abe Helmstetter said. "I think we were a little anxious at times to start. Credit to them. They made great adjustments."
With the win, top-seeded Monroeville improves to 21-3 and advances to Friday's district final at 5:30 pm. back at Shelby High School against No. 3 Lucas (18-7).
"It is like the monkey off my back," Helmstetter said. "Mohawk is a great team. They are a quality program with a lot of tradition. We knew we had to fight to get past them."
It is the first-ever appearance in a district title game for Monroeville.
"That has been our story all season," Mohawk coach Mindy Walton said. "We have that inning toward the end of the game. I hate to say it, but I was kind of waiting for it."
The Eagles were actually being no-hit by Mohawk pitcher MaKenna Hurley before the bats woke up. Alex Carper and Payton Scheid each singled up the middle before Jessica Hayes roped a huge double into the outfield to get Monroeville on the board.
"Jessica Hayes was on the button the whole game," Helmstetter said. "It was just the first couple, she hit them right at them. She was hitting the ball hard."
Eagles' pitcher Carley Helmstetter walked and courtesy runner Hannah Lyons moved to second and Hayes scored on a wild pitch. Lyons then stole third and scored when the throw went into the outfield. Skiler Hershiser and Callie Rosser each singled, but a popout ended the inning with the Eagles within a run.
"I had a lot of pressure on me," Hayes said. "I knew I had to do it for the girls. We had to keep fighting. We could not just give up."
The momentum carried into the sixth inning. Adelynn Kradlak walked and Lydia Landoll reached on a bunt single to start the inning. Kradlak advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Scheid ripped a double to bring in Landoll for the Eagles' first lead of the game.
Hayes and Helmstetter followed with singles to score another run. The amazing comeback was capped when Hershiser singled in two more runs, giving Monroeville the unpredictable 9-5 lead.
Helmstetter finished off the game, but not without another threat from the Warriors (17-10). Victoria Phillips doubled and Lauren Moyer singled, but Helmstetter induced a flyout to Carper in left field to end the game.
"I don't want to let them down," Carley Helmstetter said. "I just try to keep fighting."
It is not the first time the Eagles have made a big comeback. Monroeville came from six runs down to beat Plymouth on April 23, 7-6.
"The experience of that (helped)," coach Helmstetter said. "These girls are not only a good ball team, but they fight. That is huge."
Mohawk jumped on the Eagles early. Monroeville committed a pair of errors, but Helmstetter faced a runner on third with two outs when Moyer singled for the first run of the game. Jordan Tyree ripped a double to score Moyer before a single from Madi Chester made it 3-0.
"In the first couple of innings, we were hitting right off of (Helmstetter)" Walton said. "I was proud of our at-bats. We saw a lot of pitches and worked the pitcher. We were doing a great job up there."
In the third inning, Aubrie Harper took the first pitch she saw and cranked it over the fence. In the fourth, Hurley singled in Chester, who had reached on a bunt single for a 5-0 advantage.
"Carley executed great pitches after that home run," coach Helmstetter said. "She tried to keep them off balance. Mohawk can hit."
The Warriors made Helmstetter work throughout. She threw 29 and 28 pitches in the first and second innings, respectively. Her lowest inning until the seventh was a 15-pitch fourth inning.
"They made Carley work," coach Helmstetter said of his daughter. "We expected Mohawk's discipline at the plate. They understand the game of softball. We knew we were in a battle."
Mohawk 031 100 0 — 5 11 2
Monroeville 000 045 x — 9 10 2
WP: Helmstetter. LP: Hurley
2B: (MOH) Tyree, Phillips; (MON) Hayes, Scheid. HR: (MOH) Harper.