Monmouth pitcher Brooklyn Federico delivers a pitch during the first inning of a Class C South semifinal game against Spruce Mountain in Monmouth on Saturday. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal

MONMOUTH — Base runners were at a premium Saturday, and Monmouth Academy senior pitcher Brooklyn Federico knew she had to do her part in keeping it that way against Spruce Mountain.

Federico allowed only two base runners and kept the Phoenix off the base paths in six of the seven innings she pitched in the Mustangs’ 1-0 Class C South semifinal victory over the Phoenix.

“I was definitely a little bit nervous. I didn’t really want to throw much off because I didn’t really want to walk anyone, because they’re a good team and I just didn’t want to,” Federico said. “But I think, for the most part, I was OK. I didn’t really stress.”

The veteran pitcher said she thought the top-seeded Mustangs (17-1) had one of their best defensive games of the year.

The scorebook backed that up. Monmouth committed just one error, which came on a hard liner from Spruce Mountain’s Jaydn Pingree leading off the fourth. Federico and the Mustang defense made miscue mostly moot. Federico induced consecutive pop-outs, including third baseman Riley Smith running in to catch a popped-up bunt for the first out. Jazmine Pingree singled through the right side of the infield two batters later, putting runners at first and second, but Federico got out of her only jam when Grace Levesque caught a fly ball to center off the bat of Mallory Clark.

“You know, our good hitters got contact but just couldn’t get it through,” fourth-seeded Phoenix (13-5) coach Lisa Dube said. “So, I mean, that was kind of our game plan. We had talked about, get runners on, we would small-ball them around. I think the pop-up bunt really hurt us. … That hurt us, getting a runner over. Part of the game. It’s all part of the game.”


Spruce Mountain pitcher Rylee Turner delivers a pitch during the first inning of a Class C South semifinal game against Monmouth Academy in Monmouth on Saturday. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal

The Mustangs’ offense was also quiet for the first three innings. Maddie Herr took a changeup relatively gently off the top of her helmet with two outs in the bottom of the first, then stole second, but she was stranded when Spruce Mountain freshman pitcher Rylee Turner induced a groundout from Monmouth cleanup hitter Shanna Parsons.

Turner struck out five of the first 10 batters she faced, then induced a flyout to open up the bottom of the fourth. Herr then drew the only walk of the game issued by either pitcher and flashed her abilities on the base paths. She stole second, moved to third when a ball in the dirt slipped away from the batter’s box, and scored on Parson’s RBI grounder back to Turner, who was able to throw to first for the out.

“I just have to have confidence in who’s at the plate, and then just move off of that,” Herr said of her base-running mindset. “And just have my head up when I’m base running, and then just go from there.”

Herr added that she normally gets ahead of herself when she’s up to bat, but she waited on Turner’s pitches and was able to draw the crucial walk.

Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said speed at the top of the lineup is an asset for the Mustangs.

“Our top three, really quick. Rileigh Chase, Brooklyn Federico and Maddie Herr,” Kaplan said. “… And number-four (hitter, Parsons), typically — she did not have a typical game, she usually crushes the ball. She hit .570 in the regular season. She crushed the ball. She didn’t crush it today, but got it done with that one little comeback that got (to) the pitcher. So that’s what we needed.”


Turner got out of the bottom of the fourth with her sixth strikeout.

Her seventh came at a key time for her in the bottom of the fifth, with the Mustangs threatening to add to their lead. June Foyt singled to right-center with one out for Monmouth’s lone hit, and Zara Salk followed by reaching on an error. Turner struck out the next batter looking, but Chase reached on another error to load the bases.

That put Federico at the plate with a chance to proved insurance runs and take away some of the pressure of pitching. Instead, Turner kept the pitchers’ duel intact by inducing Federico into a foul pop-up to Jazmine Pingree at third.

“I thought we had our best shot when Brooklyn had the bases loaded,” Kaplan said. “And she’s been stinging the ball hard to right field twice, and I figured she’s due to park one in the gap. And that’s where I wanted to break it open, but she got underneath it.

“Turner threw really well today for Spruce. Rylee Turner threw real well. Way better than she did in the first game, because we got seven runs off her in the first game. But that little backspin she’s got on the ball, she was in control today. She was throwing well. So just had to manufacture that one run, because Brooklyn was bringing it, too. And Brooklyn stayed away from the bases on balls today, and that was huge. Staying away from the walks. She threw strikes.”

The strikes allowed the Monmouth defense to do its job, and it did over the final three innings. Herr made a ranging catch on a shallow fly in the fifth and caught a hard, low liner in the sixth. Federico knocked down Turner’s hard-hit grounder to lead off the seventh and fired to Parsons at first base for the first out, then Parsons ranged out to catch a foul pop for the second. Herr corralled a grounder and tossed to Parsons for the final out.


“Very nerve-wracking, but today our defense really came to play, and I’m really glad for that,” said Federico, who finished with six strikeouts. “I think we had one of our best defensive games we’ve had all year. So even though our batting wasn’t there, I had 100-percent faith in my field to back me up.”

Turner struck out eight batters in six innings and had the backing of a defense that committed only two harmless errors after the Phoenix committed a multitude of them during the 7-4 loss in the regular season.

“A couple mistakes. You know, they got a base runner, she moved around, stole a base — a couple small mistakes, and that’s what it was gonna take in this kind of game,” Dube said. “I mean, nothing-nothing going into the, I think it was the fourth inning when they got that run. We still had confidence we could come back and maybe get that, match that. We hit the ball sharp a couple times, but right at people.

“The biggest highlight, I guess, of today is my freshman pitcher one-hits the No. 1 team. I mean, we can’t be sad about that; we got to be proud about that. We got a full returning team next year, minus my catcher, who was our only senior. So the girls are a little sad about that. But not sad at all about about the outcome of this game. This was a good game.”

The Mustangs advance to the regional final for the first time under Kaplan in his 10 seasons. They’ll face No. 2 Hall-Dale, the two-time defending state champ who dealt Monmouth its lone loss during the regular season.

“It’s been a long time. It feels great. You know, we get another shot at Hall-Dale, which feels great,” Kaplan said. “I mean, I coached at Hall-Dale for 10 years before I came here for 10 years. So the two teams know each other pretty well. You know, Steve Aceto was my assistant there. So it’s just going to be a great matchup. Last time we played them, we didn’t give up any earned runs. So we just got to play D. We got to play great D against Hall-Dale, we got to bring our A-game, let the chips fall where they may. I feel good about it.”

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