The Montesano High School softball team put itself securely in the driver’s seat in the 1A Evergreen League Monday.
Going into the doubleheader Monday at Monte’s Hyde Field, both the Bulldogs and Hoquiam were undefeated in league with 4-0 records. The Bulldog defense would change that.
Monte (8-3, 6-0) held Hoquiam, which had averaged more than 10 runs in each of its first nine games, to only one run in the two games, taking the first game, 2-1, and putting up a shutout in the second game, 4-0.
“We know that we have had our issues offensively, but we also knew that if we wanted to win these games they were going to be won by a few runs and based on defense and pitching,” coach Pat Pace said. “Tonight our pitchers threw very well. Staci (Schneider) and Madison (Didion) are in peak form and they hopefully are only going to get better.”
Didion struck out eight and limited the Grizzlies to five hits and one run in the opening game.
“I’ve been working on hitting low spots, not up in the zone where they are going to get hit,” Didion said. “Everything came together that game.”
Schneider, who threw a four-inning perfect game on Friday against Rainier, blanked Hoquiam in the second contest giving up five hits and no walks.
While the Bulldogs defense didn’t show any signs of weakness, Monte’s offense had its hiccups throughout the doubleheader. Montesano scored both of its runs in the first game without hitting a ball out of the infield. Makenzi Howard started the scoring rally with an infield hit and Pua Cavanah bunted on base. Both runners reached home on errors by Hoquiam with Howard stealing third and then stealing home when a throw went over the head of the fielder and Cavanauh sliding home on a wild pitch.
Cavanauh has been one of the bright spots for Monte offensively throughout the season, Pace said.
“(Pua) seems to find a way to get on base in every game we’ve played this season and once she gets on she seems to come around to score,” Pace said. “She’s really been a great offensive threat for us this season.”
Despite stranding several runners on base in the nightcap, Monte managed to muster the clutch hits they needed to come away with the win. No hit was more key than a two-out single by freshman Alyssa Gustafson who drove in two runs in the fifth for a 3-0 lead.
“We’ve been looking for a player to step up and clear the bases with two outs and the pressure on,” Pace said. “I thought she did a great job for a freshman.”
Monte now holds a two-game lead in the 1A Evergreen standings, but the Bulldogs are going to stay focused on the goal at hand rather than celebrate. After the sweep of the Grizzlies, the only teams that stand between Monte and a league title are Elma and Rochester. The Bulldogs will host Elma in a doubleheader on May 8 and will travel to Rochester on May 15.
“We knew that if we were focused on every pitch and brought our defense to play we would have a shot to win,” Pace said. “Right now that puts us in a very good spot. We need to match up against Rochester and Elma when we play them and if we sweep them we have the league. I like being in the driver’s seat.”