Despite that, Plymouth had quietly kept itself within striking distance and nearly shook things up in a big way on Tuesday at Clark Park in Monroeville.
The Big Red led 6-0 and were six outs away from a shutout win. Instead, the Division IV No. 10-ranked Eagles stunned Plymouth with six runs in the bottom of the sixth, then plated a run in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 7-6 victory to improve to 13-1 overall and 8-0 in the FC.
Plymouth fell to 12-4 overall (4-3 FC). Crestview (16-1, 9-0) also remains atop the FC standings, and will play two games with Monroeville next week.
The play of the game came on a reversed call on Carley Helmstetter in the bottom of the eighth. She was initially called out before a discussion with the home plate umpire resulted in Helmstetter being ruled safe. Two batters later, Helmstetter went on to score the winning run on throw from to third that left the field of play — granting Helmstetter home plate.
“That there was one heck of a game,” Monroeville coach Abe Helmstetter said. “Plymouth is a good team and we all know that Tracy (Arnold) does a great job coaching them. Going in, we knew we would our hands full with them today. Sometimes it’s better to get lucky than to be good. We got lucky tonight.
“It doesn’t get any easier (today) either when we go to their place,” he added. “Tracy is going to have them ready to play and we will get just as tough of a game then as we did tonight.”
Shilo Plank was the catalyst to the red hot start by Plymouth, as she doubled to lead off the game. She went on to score and give the Big Red the much-needed fast start that they wanted thanks to the bat of Tristen Wiley, who swatted a single off Helmstetter.
Morgan Chaffins followed that up with a pop fly that scored Wiley, and Emily Blanton thanks to an Eagle error to give them the 3-0 lead early on.
The Big Red then heated up again in the fifth. Shilo Plank and Wiley both scored their second runs on the day and Plank’s sister, Kaela Plank, also added a run of her own. The offense then became stagnant and did not score again — leaving them stuck at six runs.
“We started out fast tonight, which is what we wanted to do,” Plymouth coach Tracy said. “We got sloppy on defense and I thought that they took advantage of some of our mistakes to get the win. They did enough to get the win.
“The girls won’t let this affect them when we play them again,” she added. “They are too hungry of a team to let this linger on, and I think we will get the best out of them when play (today).”
Payton Schied came on in relief in the fifth for Helmstetter and went the final three innings without allowing a run. She finished the game with five strikeouts and allowed just one hit to get credit for the win.
“I just tried to come out and take a pitch at a time to help lift my team,” Scheid said. “The momentum and excitement that we created on offense helped me when I was pitching, because you do not want to let your team down.
“Plymouth is a good team and we are hoping that we can keep the momentum from tonight into (Wednesday’s) game against them. There are no easy games in our conference, and we know we have to play our best to get a win again (Wednesday).”
Helmstetter allowed six runs (two earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk in her five innings of work. She also had an RBI in the big sixth inning.
Also for the Eagles, Scheid and Lydia Landoll both singled and drove in a run, while Skiler Hershiser, Callie Rosser, Adlaynn Kradlak and Alex Carper each added a hit.
For Plymouth, Shilo Plank was 3 for 4 with the double, while Mallory Miller doubled and had two RBIs. Kelsey Blankenship added a double.
Ariel Plank came in to relieve Mallory Miller and went two innings with two strikeouts and didn’t allow a hit to go along with the unearned run. Miller went the first 5 1/3 innings, allowing six unearned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and five walks.
Plymouth 300 030 00 — 6 8 7
Monroeville 000 006 01 — 7 7 3
WP: Helmstetter; LP: A. Plank
2B: (P) Blankenship, Miller, S. Plank