By Keith Lair
TEMPLE CITY – One of the greatest thrills on the athletic field has to be scoring a game- changing goal in a big soccer game.
Monrovia High School soccer standout Shannon Brooks can now go one better. She hit her third career home run, and it sparked the Wildcats to a 4-2 victory over host Temple City in a Rio Hondo League game Monday afternoon.
“I’m actually amazed,” the senior said of the hit. “Did I actually do it? My heart and soul is for soccer. Softball is just for fun, and to hit something like that is more rewarding than scoring a goal.”
Brooks, who is batting .680 (17-for-25) this season, led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run on a 1-0 pitch that put a dent in the right-field scoreboard. It only tied the game at 2, but it was the difference.
“I think it got us going,” she said. “The girls work really hard, and to be down by one and to have one of their leaders hit something to help them back is rewarding.
“It’s kind of funny; I choked up (on the bat), and I never choked up before until this year. My batting was horrible before now. Now, I’m very confident, but I’m surprised, too.”
Brooke Cowell then hit a bloop single to center field that Jessica Kosharek nearly got to on a diving attempt, but it bounced off the grass and into her mitt. Schae Simpson, who drove in the game’s first run with a single in the first inning, then put down a bunt between pitcher Kelsey Hardwick and first baseman Jessica Loiacano. The left-handed Hardwick tried to field it, but couldn’t handle it.
Cori Williams then moved both runners over with a sacrifice and Nikki Guzman hit a sharp grounder in the third- base gap against a drawn-in infield for the go-ahead run. Jackie King’s flyout to deep right field made it 4-2.
“They bunted, they got in a position to score and they got the hit,” Temple City coach Bob Ellingsworth said. “We got in a position to score and we strike out. They executed the short game and what they needed to do, and we didn’t. You don’t win games that way.”
Monrovia pitcher Williams still had to retire the top of the Temple City order. She got Veronica Grant to strike out for the second time in the game and Loiacano to ground out to second base for the second consecutive at-bat.
“I was really nervous,” the right-hander said. “They are a really good team. But we still have to stay on our toes.”
Williams, who had to take a week off because she had to change her delivery, got three of her four strikeouts against the Rams’ two best hitters, Grant and Loiacano, and held the Rams’ top four hitters to a harmless single by Danielle Rodriguez.
“My first strikeout (of Grant), was, like, OK; the second one gave me a lot more confidence,” Williams said.
It was quite a finish for the Wildcats, who barely beat San Marino (11-10 in 11 innings) and lost to Temple City, last season’s league champions, 9-8 in nine innings, last week. The Wildcats are 2-2 in league, 5-4 overall.
“It was definitely a game that the girls were challenged and they stepped up to the challenge,” Monrovia coach Randy Medina said. “They have some great hitters, they put the ball in play, and they crush the ball. We decreased the number of errors (to one). If we play error-free, or we can have an error or two where we can make it up, we can be in every game.”
The Rams, after a 4-0 start, are 2-5 in their last seven games, having lost three of their last four and their last two league games. They are 2-2 in league play.
“We just got outhustled everywhere around the field,” Ellingsworth said. “We’re underachieving right now. We have too much talent for what they are putting in.
Monday’s total was the fewest runs Temple City has scored this season. Trailing 1-0, the Rams got to Williams with a Loiacano double to right field, a mishandled grounder by Monrovia third baseman Jackie King, an RBI groundout by Sami Jakeway and a single through the second-base hole by Hardaway.
“They’ve got to decide if they are going to come out and play,” Ellingsworth said. “They can’t go five inning walking around waiting for something to happen.”
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