Facing 20-win Monroeville in a Division IV sectional title game on the road at Clark Park on Thursday, things only got worse as it went along.
The Eagles’ Alex Carper led off the bottom of the first and started a two-run inning that proved to be more than enough for ace Carley Helmstetter in a 10-0 win in five innings.
Monroeville (21-3) advanced to next Tuesday’s district semifinal at 4:30 p.m. against Sycamore Mohawk at Shelby High School.
South Central fell to 11-12 overall, and plays Plymouth at 10 a.m. Saturday in a rescheduled Firelands Conference game.
In the bottom of the first, Carper singled and stole second, and was later awarded home plate when Oney was called for a second illegal pitch in the inning. Monroeville added another run on an RBI double by Brooke Kime that plated Paige Schafer.
From that point on, Helmstetter dominated South Central’s batting order and was nearly unhittable. When the Trojans did make contact, Monroeville’s fielders flashed range to make plays behind her to give Helmstetter credit for the three-hit shutout.
Helmstetter struck out six batters.
“They played a clean game and didn’t make any mistakes against a good South Central team,” Monroeville coach Abe Helmstetter said. “They came in and played like they always do. They didn’t have the early game jitters or allow themselves to get anxious, and that is a big reason why we were able to get the win.”
Schafer had two singles, a triple and two RBIs. Jessica Hayes had two hits and three RBIs, while Brooke Kime went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. Ashlyn Tommas had a single and an RBI and Carper later doubled.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t really set goals on wins,” Schafer said. “Our goal was to just play one game at a time and not get focused on a win total or several games down the road.
“We are still taking the same approach in the tournament,” she added. “We know that any game can be our last, and that motivates us to keep playing together as long as we can.”
For South Central, Oney, Desiree Chill and Emma Keysor each tallied a single.
Oney pitched all four innings for the Trojans and allowed 10 runs (9 earned) on 13 hits with no strike outs and no walks.
“This was not our best game,” South Central coach Andrea Recker said. “It just didn’t go our way. I don’t think it was nerves or the illegal pitch call or anything like that. Sarah is too mentally tough to allow those things to affect her negatively. Monroeville is a great team and they beat us.
South Central began the season 2-11, but has a chance to get to 12-12 with a win on Saturday.
“We had a young team that grew a lot from when we started,” Recker said. “I am just so proud of these girls and can’t wait to see what they can do next season after experiencing some success and with another year of growth.”