After winning just four games over the regular season, the Aurora Lady Houns entered district play last Wednesday as the sixth seed out of six teams in Class 3 District 12. Facing third-seeded Monett, a team with plenty of recent success, the matchup was a daunting one for coach James Hoffman's team. But the Lady Houns didn't go down without a fight.
Aurora got off to a hot start, as three singles led to three runs in the top of the first inning to give the Lady Houns an early lead.
Said lead would not last long, as Monett came back with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning, but the Aurora bats had more to say in the following frame.
After a groundout to start the second, a single by Brooke Schutte put a runner on base as Elizabeth Martin stepped to the plate. Martin took a 2-1 pitch and drove it over the centerfield fence to give the Lady Houns a 5-3 lead.
Two batters later, Kaysie Carr did the same for a solo home run to make it 6-3.
The Aurora lead held until the bottom of the fourth, when Monett came back strong for seven runs to take a 10-6 lead.
The Lady Houns would get one more run in the following inning, on an RBI single by Jessie Conran, but that would be all for the underdog Aurora team.
The Lady Cubs would go on to score seven more runs over the next two innings to end the game by run rule in the sixth.
Aurora racked up 12 hits on the day, including three by Martin and two each by Carr, Bethany Rogers and Autumn Danforth. Conran, Schutte and Morgan Sanborn each added one hit.
Rogers took the final loss in the circle, throwing 118 pitches over five-plus innings and allowing 10 earned runs. She struck out three in her final outing of the season.
After a disappointing year in the wins department, Hoffman's team will look to build on the experience gained by young players for next season. The likes of Martin, Carr, Rogers and Conran will be back, while Danforth and Sanborn will graduate in the spring, along with Kensie Darst, Jacelyn Brinley and Maddie Schmidt.