EUSTIS – With just one strikeout from pitcher Megan Moncrief against a stellar Eustis High batting lineup, the Keystone Heights High softball team relied on team defense and big bats to defeat …
EUSTIS – With just one strikeout from pitcher Megan Moncrief against a stellar Eustis High batting lineup, the Keystone Heights High softball team relied on team defense and big bats to defeat Eustis High 5-3 in a surprising upset in the region 2-5A playoff opener Wed., May 2 in Eustis. Eustis (21-6) was last year’s Class 5A runnerup.
“We are going to ride this momentum for sure but they are ready to play Santa Fe,” said Keystone Heights coach Jessica Marquart, who lost 6-4 to Santa Fe in the district 5-5A final after an undefeated district slate in regular season play. “No game is easy now. We just have to work hard and play our game.”
In region 2-5A, Santa Fe (18-10) beat South Sumter 9-0 to advance and host Keystone Heights Tues., May 8 with Hernando beating Atlantic 8-0 and Nature Coast beating Taylor High 4-2 in the other region openers. Hernando (24-3) will host Nature Coast (19-10) for that region semifinal.
With 12 hits against Eustis pitcher Delaney Heaberlin who still got six strikeouts for the game, Keystone Heights used a barrage of hits in their first at bat, including singles from Ashton Ludwig and Bailey Story that got pushed to home plate with a Molly Crawfor double. Savannah Channell got hit by a pitch to load the bases before Moncrief ripped a double to score two more runs as Keystone Heights bolted to a 3-0 lead.
“We knew we were the underdogs and had to play our best to win,” said Marquart. “We had to take advantage of what they gave us and we knew we had to test them in order to score. We got hits when we needed them.”
Eustis got one run back with an error to Ludwig on a bunt attempt, but Moncrief kept the Eustis batting lineup on the ground for easy outs via the infield.
“Megan pitched awesome. They are one of the best hitting teams we have faced and she kept them off balance and everyone in the infield made huge plays,” said Marquart. “It was a team effort and a team win.”
In the third, Keystone Heights against got a handful of singles; Channell, Worley and Lexi Northway to score one more run and push the score to 4-1. Eustis got two runs in the fourth inning off three singles and a sacrifice fly but a snag by Channell on a foul fly ball off the third base line was a momentum stifler for the Indians defense.
Keystone Heights final run came in the fifth with a walk to Ludwig and an error on a Story single setting up a Channell run scoring single.