Wet conditions made for a sloppy postseason opener for the Thomas More Prep-Marian softball team, but the Monarchs were good enough in the mud to extend their season with a 6-4 win over Lakin on Monday at TMP Field.
The Monarchs (15-6) and Broncs were locked in a one-run game in the bottom of the sixth before the Monarchs found some breathing room.
Brianna Romme and Bridget Heimann each reached to start the inning, but the Broncs got Romme out at third on a fielder’s choice following a Ciara Seib bunt. Catcher Taryn Rupp followed with a single that dropped in left and scored Heimann.
“We just listened to our coaches and ran the bases like we should’ve and got the balls hit where needed to,” Heimann said of the sixth-inning rally.
Alison Helget, who started the game in the circle, brought Heimann in with a groundout to short, making it a three-run game. Meagan Brin then gave Bailey Lacy a four-run advantage with an RBI single that never left the infield. While the junior is one of the Monarchs that doesn’t bring a ton of power to the plate, her and others like her have still managed to help the Monarch offense.
“We don’t need home runs or balls to the fence all the time,” TMP coach Melissa Schoepf said. “We just need to find holes and put the pressure on defense.”
The visitors got a run back in the top of the seventh after Paige Kirby plated Kelsey Jury who hit a one-out double. Lakin catcher Kayla Calkins followed with the Broncs second double of the frame, a ball blistered to left, to make it a two-run game. After a walk, the Broncs brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate, but Lacy got Shannon McCormick to hit into a fielder’s choice to give the hosts the victory.
Heimann, the TMP centerfielder, found some benefit in playing a close game in the postseason opener with the Monarchs hoping to play twice more on Tuesday.
“It gets you ready for the next games,” the junior said. “So, you’re not really high-headed.”
To start the game, Helget had some trouble finding the zone with rain steadily falling.
After Kirby singled to open the game, she came around to score on a wild pitch, part of two consecutive walks issued by the TMP starter.
“Everyone’s playing in the same weather conditions, so it’s kinda hard to get a gauge,” Schoepf said. “As a pitcher, it’s tough to hold on to that ball.”
The Monarchs took the lead back in the second after Helget settled in and got three consecutive groundouts in the top of the second.
Romme took a pitch off the front of her jersey to open the inning before coming around to score on a throwing error after a bunt from Heimann. Helget helped her own cause later in the inning with a double to left that scored Seib after a walk.
Heimann helped the hosts out in the top of the third with a pair of nice plays in center. She drifted into right-center and got under a well-hit ball for the second out of the inning before robbing the Broncs of at least one run when she charged on a liner to center.
“Our defense came through on some really huge plays,” Schoepf said. “Bridget had a catch that saved us, and that was huge.”
“It was tough,” Heimann said. “It was really slick outside. There was mud stuck in your shoes and everything. (I) just stuck out my glove and did my best.”
Romme added to the TMP lead in the bottom of the third when the Monarchs benefitted from another Lakin error that allowed Meagan Brin to score.
Lacy came into the game in the fourth, which was always the plan with TMP hoping to play twice today.
“We wanted to use both of them to minimize innings so tomorrow so they can be ready to go for a full game,” Schoepf said.
Lacy struck out the first three batters she faced in the fourth before TMP went down in order in the bottom half.
Neither side scored in the fifth, allowing the Monarchs to take a 3-1 lead to the sixth.
Brin led the Monarchs with three hits and helped the hosts out-hit their guests 7-4. TMP committed four errors to Lakin’s three.
The postseason opener might have been closer than would’ve hoped, but the Monarchs got a good taste of what’s to be expected when the end of a season is on the line.
“At this point, every team is playing not to lose, so you’re going to get your best games,” Schopef said.
“That’s what we gotta do. We gotta play like every game is our last, and that’s what Lakin did.”
Thomas More Prep-Marian 6, Lakin 4
LHS 100 001 2 — 4 4 3
TMP 021 003 x — 6 7 4
Helget, Lacy and Rupp, Werth; McCombs and Calkins. 2B: Helget; Jury, Calkins.
TMP takes on Scott City at 4:30 p.m. in the semifinals.