VIENNA - With John Marshall staring this morning's elimination game in the face, Alexa Jones showed why it has been that kind of season for the Monarchs.
Parkersburg South pitcher CeeCee Bailey was in a groove but found her first bit of trouble since the first inning. With the bases loaded and the Patriots clinging to a 2-1 lead, Jones, the No. 7 hitter, delivered the biggest hit of the season.
Her opposite-field, bases-clearing double in the bottom of the sixth inning gave John Marshall a 4-2 lead and the Monarchs tacked on another run to earn a 5-4 victory against Parkersburg South on Wednesday at Jackson Park. The victory puts the Monarchs into today's title game against the winner of Parkersburg South and Logan.
PHOTO BY JEFF BAUGHAN
The Monarchs’ Hannah Rogerson is safe as the ball eludes RCB catcher Katie Powell.
PHOTO BY JEFF BAUGHAN
John Marshall starting pitcher Megan Garcia works to the plate during a West Virginia State Softball Tournament victory against Robert C. Byrd.
South defeated Logan earlier Wednesday. John Marshall, which beat Robert C. Byrd 10-3 in the opener, needs one victory today to claim the title and must lose twice to see those dreams come to an end.
''It felt great to get because we needed to get up our confidence,'' Jones said. ''(Bailey's) curveball was working all day but she gave me an outside pitch to hit.''
Megan Garcia led off the inning with a single to left. Morgan Watson reached on an error and Hannah Rogerson walked, giving Bailey nowhere to put Jones.
Jones noticed Patriots right fielder Jenna Daugherty was shifted to almost the middle of the field. When Jones slapped Bailey's 1-1 offering into the outfield, there was no one there. The ball reached the wall as Jones coasted into second and all the Monarchs touched home plate.
''She has been a good, solid hitter for us all year, usually gets about one hit a game,'' John Marshall coach Ed West said. ''She is batting .330 and you can count on her for that one hit a game, sometimes two. I'm really pleased for her. Big hit for her.
''I told Jackie Gellner the right fielder was moved over but I didn't tell Alexa. The only thing I said to her was to look for a good pitch to drive. Fortunately she was able to get it down that right-field side.''
Parkersburg South coach Jennifer Null defended her decision with an easy answer.
''They always hit to the left side,'' she said. ''They got one hit there in I don't know how many at-bats. It is what it is.''
Gellner added the final Monarchs run on an RBI groundout to send the Patriots to their final three outs needing three runs.
That run proved to be a big one.
Patriots catcher Geena Trippett hit a two-run home run off John Marshall pitcher Amy Rotriga to center field to cut the deficit to one.
Bailey reached on an error and Alex West hit a single to put the tying run in scoring position with one out. Morgan Trippett then grounded into a game-ending double play.
''What an exciting game,'' West said. ''People got their money's worth. I'm really proud of my girls. We got some timely hits when we needed and I'm glad we were able to get out of here with a win.
''This game is the most important game of the tournament. Now you get to sleep in, you get to enjoy yourself and you can play one game for the championship. If not, you get a second chance. That is a huge advantage.
''I expect a good game between Logan and South and we'll take whoever comes.''
John Marshall took the lead in the first inning as Kristin Lewicki, who tripled to lead off, scored on an error.
Logan Somerville tied the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth and Katelyn Hamilton gave the Patriots a lead with a bases-loaded walk. Parkersburg South left the bases loaded in third and fourth innings.
Rotriga struck out nine in a victory. Garcia earned a victory against Robert C. Byrd, striking out four.
The Monarchs didn't have an extra-base hit but capitalized on nine Eagles errors in the opener. Lewicki had three singles - two bunts - and two RBI.