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Marceline High softball season unexpectedly halted in state opener

Linn County Leader
Linn County Leader

MARCELINE — A Marceline softball Lady Tigers 2020 season which seemed destined to equal or exceed last year’s third-place finish in the Class 2 state tournament abruptly ended in decisive fashion on Marceline’s home field last Wednesday.

On a cold, damp evening at the Disney Sports Complex, the bats of both the Lady Tigers and the visiting Monroe City Lady Panthers were hot, but the guests’ were more potent, battering Marceline for a 13-7 victory which terminated the hosts’ season with a 23-2 record.

“The girls had a great season and accomplished a lot as a team,” MHS coach Todd Lowther commented after the stunning finale.

Sarah Kussman, Gracey Jordan, and Shelby Scott each had two hits in the state tournament opening-round (quarterfinals) loss. Kussman clubbed her first career home run and Jordan hit her second, the coach noted.

Like Marceline, Monroe City had been in the 2019 Class 2 state tournament. Unlike the Lady Tigers, it had lost in the opening round to fellow Clarence Cannon Conference (CCC) member Palmyra 7-1.

When Monroe City brought only a 19-6 2020 record to Marceline last week, while the Lady Tigers’ only blemish had been a 2-1 loss to a strong, Class 4 team (St. Joseph: Central), the Lady Panthers projected to be only a veritable speed bump on the way to a rematch with the strong Hamilton: Penney Lady Hornets in the state semifinals.

Hamilton, which had been shaded 2-1 by Marceline during the regular season, kept its half of the bargain by knocking off defending state champ Creighton: Sherwood 2-1 earlier Wednesday afternoon.

However, Monroe City upset the apple cart.

While the margin of the Lady Panthers’ victory over Marceline was even more unexpected, the MHS loss itself was a major surprise.

While they had not faced each other during the regular season, Marceline and Monroe City entered the state tourney with seven common opponents.

The Lady Tigers had defeated each of the seven, five by double-digits spreads and all except one (CCC champion Macon) by at least eight run.

Monroe City had lost to Macon 5-4 and only two of its six victories over the others had been by margins of more than six runs. The Lady Panthers’ conference win over Brookfield had been a very narrow one – 6-5. Marceline, conversely, had just shredded BHS’ Lady Bulldogs 12-4 in the district title game.

However, on this one occasion, form didn’t hold and, as investment commercials often remind, “past performance does not guarantee future results.”