MONMOUTH — Hours before the first pitch Friday, Hall-Dale softball coach Steve Acedo reminded his troops that a loss wouldn’t bring about the end of the world, much less the end of the season.

Acedo needn’t have worried.

In a matchup of Mountain Valley Conference unbeatens, the Bulldogs scrapped out a 5-1 win over rival Monmouth for the program’s 48th straight win dating back to the 2019 season.

“We talked about it last night, and they were like, ‘Coach, what do we do if we lose?’ ” Acedo said. “I told them, ‘Guess what we do if we lose? We start a new winning streak.’ I think that kind of hit home with them. It’s the regular season. I understand everybody likes to win, but if you lose, you take advantage of the mistakes and learn from them.”

Senior hurler Rita Benoit was sensational for Hall-Dale (12-0).

Benoit was nearly perfect through six innings — facing the minimum 18 batters over that timeframe. She tossed the Bulldogs out to a 5-0 lead, allowing a single hit while striking out eight.


In the seventh, Monmouth (11-1) strung together a couple of hits and plated its lone run of the afternoon. But Benoit punctuated her day by ending the too-late rally with her ninth strikeout of the afternoon.

“It was definitely a lot of pitch sequencing,” Benoit said. “(Catcher Zoe Soule) does a great job calling behind the plate. But then it’s really good defense behind me. We made all the plays in the field, and because of that I had confidence that all I had to do was throw strikes.”

The Bulldogs only produced five hits of their own, all of them singles, but they were opportunistic against Monmouth ace Brooke Federico.

The visitors got the leadoff batter aboard in four of the seven innings, scored in three of those innings and didn’t go down in order until the top of the seventh.

Sophomore second baseman Torie Tibbetts went 2 for 4 at the plate with a pair of runs scored, including the game’s first run in the top of the first.

Hall-Dale added two more in the third and another two in the sixth, with all but the Tibbetts’ run in the first being unearned.


“Bunt defense is going to be a point of practice for the next week,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “That’s a 1-1 game if we don’t throw the ball around like that. Those aren’t hard plays. But when kids get amped up for a game like this, those mistakes are going to happen.”

Hall-Dale’s Jade Graham (24) hustles down the line on a bunt attempt as the throw is off the mark to Monmouth’s Maddie Herr during a softball game Friday in Monmouth. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Eight of the nine spots in the Hall-Dale lineup either reached base, scored a run or drove in a run, testament to Hall-Dale’s ability to pressure the Monmouth defense all afternoon long.

The lone Bulldog to not reach base, left fielder Mira Skehan, more than made up for it with a brilliant running catch deep in the gap in left-center field in the seventh inning.

Federico never looked comfortable, but she did manage to strand 11 Bulldogs on base — including eight of them in scoring position.

Kaplan noted five illegal pitch calls against Federico in the first inning might have rattled her. She also uncorked two wild pitches and was the victim of a passed ball in the opening frame.

“(The umpire) took her out of the game with those illegal pitch calls,” Kaplan said.

Center fielder Grace Levesque’s ground-rule double to right-center in the seventh drove in Monmouth’s only run.

“These are the games we love. This is why we play softball,” Benoit said. “We like having these close games, and it’s always a rivalry against Monmouth, no matter what the score is. … We all find a way to manage our nerves and pull through.”

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