Monticello drops heartbreaker

Monticello pitcher Victoria Scott needed three outs in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded. To make things tougher, in a game where the margin of error was razor-thin, she couldn’t afford to give up a single run.

Two strikeouts and a groundout to Kaitlyn Bodine later, the Mustangs were back in the dugout and the game was still deadlocked.

Monticello survived jam after jam against a Poquoson squad that consistently put the ball in play, but the Mustangs played with fire one too many times Tuesday night in the teams’ marathon Group AA quarterfinal tilt. A passed ball with the bases loaded in the top of the 13th inning brought the Mustangs’ season to a screeching halt and helped lift the Islanders on to the state semifinals with a 2-1 win.

The teams’ pitchers, both of whom earned their respective region’s pitcher of the year, went toe-to-toe throughout. Maggie Tyler, just a sophomore but already a repeat winner of the pitcher of the year award and reportedly a Virginia Tech committment, limited Monticello to three total hits and struck out 12 over the 13 innings.

“They never quit, they fought to the very end,” said Monticello coach Beth Humphrey. “They had it in their mind that they were going to come back every single time.”

Poquoson’s defense was stellar, with third baseman and Region I player of the year Catherine Clavin, shortstop Catherine Roth and first baseman Amy Putnam, all coming up with big play after big play, never losing focus as the game wore on and on. The senior trio of infielders was clutch all night.

“They’re seniors and it showed tonight,” said Poquoson coach Colleen Duman. “I’m obviously blessed to have them on my team.”

The win was Poquoson’s second straight extra-inning game. The Islanders fell 1-0 in the Region I final to Powhatan in nine innings. Monticello actually struck first with Lynley Price knocking home Scott in the bottom of the second with a hard-hit ball to third base. Scott set the table for the RBI with the first of her two doubles in the contest.

The Islanders evened the game at 1-1 when catcher Nicole Windham connected on a ball that ricocheted off Scott’s leg and a dropped throw at first allowed lightning quick Poquoson second baseman Kayla Renn to score.

Putnam scored the winning run in the top of the 13th, sliding into home in front of a late throw to Monticello’s sophomore catcher Price. Putnam reached on a hit by pitch early in the inning and moved around the bases on a sacrifice and an error. The passed ball allowed her to slip in for the go-ahead run. Monticello was unable to answer in the bottom half, with Chelsea Henderson’s infield single with two outs providing the only threat.

Monticello gave the Islanders everything they could handle, with Scott’s resilience leading the charge. The senior hurler didn’t immediately come out of the dugout at the start of the eighth inning as a trainer worked on her tired right arm that’s throw nearly every pitch this season for the Mustangs. Scott was experiencing pain in her arm, and that prompted Brittney Via to warm up in the circle. But a few practice pitches later, Scott came trotting out and took her place back in the center of the diamond.

She went on to pitch six more innings of shutdown softball, allowing only the unearned run by Putnam in the 13th.

“Victoria just has some guts — her arm was killing her the rest of the way,” Humphrey said. “She just kept saying give me the ball I’m going out there. She’s a fighter.”

The game ends the career of Scott, one of the area’s most celebrated and accomplished softball players, as well as Via, a standout first baseman, and multi-sport athletes Lydia Neuroth and Paige Lipscomb. Henderson, Monticello’s speedy centerfielder, is also a senior.

“It was just a tough way to go — on a passed ball,” Humphrey said.