Monroeville pitcher Payton Scheid retired the Lucas in order for the first time in the ninth inning.
So when the Eagles came to bat in the bottom of the inning, it was time to pounce and take what was staring them in the eyes.
The first two Monroeville batters reached and a sacrifice fly by Jessica Hayes scored Sydney Meisler, giving the Eagles their first-ever district championship, 5-4, over the Cubs at Shelby High School on Friday.
"The girls came to fight," Monroeville coach Abe Helmstetter said. "Lucas is a quality program with great tradition. We knew if we wanted to beat them, it was going to be a fight. We just had a bit more desire and fight than them."
With the win, Monroeville improved to 22-4 overall and advances to Thursday's 5 p.m. regional semifinal against McDonald at Akron's Firestone Stadium.
"A district title is huge for our small town and community," Scheid said. "It’s not very often something that is this big happens for it."
Meisler battled through a seven-pitch at-bat before reaching on an error — Lucas's fifth of the day. Alex Carper laid down a bunt to move the runner over, but the speedy leadoff hitter beat out the throw, giving the Eagles an immediate threat.
Scheid then flied out to right field, but it was deep enough for Meisler to tag and get to third base. With Hayes at the plate, Carper swiped second as insurance. Hayes then flied out to center field, but Meisler snuck by Cubs' catcher Morgan Spitler for the win.
"I knew us winning a district title was a possibility," Helmstetter said. "I will say that it is tough to get where we are at. We had opportunities the last couple years where we got knocked out in the semifinals. At this point of the year, everybody is good."
The Eagles did not lead for a single pitch.
"We had sort of adjusted to (Monroeville starting pitcher) Carley (Helmstetter)," Lucas coach Jim Rader said. "It was a little different look for us (facing Scheid). We adjusted, but just not quite enough."
The Cubs (18-8) struck first in the fifth inning. Lucas pitcher Erica Westfield and Frankie Depue each singled with one out in the fifth inning. Spitler followed with a crushing double to the fence to score both runs. Alexa Fulk followed suit with another double to push the lead to 3-0.
"The two pitches they hit were on me," Helmstetter said. "Lucas has disciplined hitters in their lineup and they sat on the changeup and hit it. I am not going to put that on Carley. I will take the accountability and responsibility for that."
Monroeville did not get to Westfield, even a hit, until the sixth inning. Carper led off the inning with a slicing ball down the left field line. She slid into third with a triple, but the relay throw was errant and Carper hopped up and scored. That awoke the Eagles' bats.
"We needed one spark plug and Alex Carper did it," Helmstetter said. "That was fantastic. She did enough to get it over the fielder's glove and I was thinking a triple at that point. With the throwing error and Alex's speed, I am not hesitating in sending her. Runs are at a premium in a game like this."
Scheid followed with a single before Hayes walked. Carley Helmstetter singled to load the bases and a RBI single by Skiler Hershiser brought the Eagles within a run. A fielder's choice and strikeout got Lucas within striking distance of escaping the inning, but a ball hit by Lydia Landoll was misplayed, tying the game.
"It was the same thing as the Mohawk game," coach Helmstetter said. "We were getting no-hit against then too. Westfield kept us off balance. She was throwing inside to our lefties and jamming them."
Lucas struck first in extra innings. Tori Sauder singled to open the eighth inning before moving to second base on a bunt and to third on a wild pitch. Gabby Smith walked and after a flyout, it was Monroeville that committed an error on a ball hit by Depue to score a run. Spitler was intentionally walked and Scheid induced a flyout to end the inning.
Monroeville, down to possibly its last three outs, responded again. Helmstetter walked before Hershiser singled again. Helmstetter advanced to third on the single and scored on a groundout by Callie Rosser to again tie the game.
The teams were scoreless through four innings. Lucas left five runners on base, including three in scoring position as Helmstetter continuously worked out of jams.
"Wasn't that a great high school softball game?" Rader said. "Win, lose, or draw, it was two very good softball teams out there. We both had opportunities."
Helmstetter went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. She struck out nine and threw 97 pitches.
"Carley threw seven strong innings yesterday and almost six today," coach Helmstetter said. "She was spent. At that point, I felt like she needed a little break and we have another great pitcher. Why not use her?"
Westfield allowed six hits and three walks. She struck out five and tossed 126 pitches.
"After coming off of a game (Thursday night) where we lost 2-1 (vs. Crestview) with the amount of pressure and magnitude of that game, it is tough to get the right mental state," coach Helmstetter said. "Credit to our girls. They fought and they battled. They did not give in and they wanted it more."
Scheid allowed just two hits in 3 1/3 innings.
"I was a little nervous coming in for Carley," Scheid said. "I told myself to breathe and relax. I knew what I had to do and I had to keep myself accountable for this team."
Lucas 000 030 010 — 4 9 5
Monroeville 000 003 011 — 5 6 2
WP: Scheid. LP: Westfield
2B: (L) Spitler 2, Smith, Fulk. 3B: (M) Carper