Softball is in her Youngblood: Monroe City junior shortstop punctuates victory with home run

Monroe City’s Audi Youngblood (9) bats during the Panthers game against the Hannibal Pirates, Saturday in the Monroe City Tournament.  Mathew Kirby (Herald WhigC courier Post)

Monroe City's Audri Youngblood went 4 for 4 with two triples and a home run in Thursday's 13-0 victory over Palmyra at Flower City Park in Palmyra, Mo. | Photo courtesy Mathew Kirby

PALMYRA, Mo. — Audri Youngblood is a multi-sport standout at Monroe City High School.

Youngblood plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring. In the fall, her focus is on softball.

“Softball’s my favorite,” the junior shortstop said.

On Thursday night, it was easy to see why.

Youngblood strung together an impressive four-hit, four-RBI performance, including an eye-opening, laser-like home run deep to left-center field that provided the perfect accent to Monroe City’s 13-0, five-inning whitewashing of arch rival Palmyra at Flower City Park.

There was absolutely no doubt that Youngblood’s blast — a three-run shot — was going to clear the fence. It was just a question of by how much.

“As soon as she hit it, we all knew it was gone,” said winning pitcher Lucy Pratt, who like the rest of Youngblood’s teammates came to their feet to watch the home run ball sail deep into the night. “(Audri) is an amazing player.”

There’s absolutely no questioning that.

Youngblood is coming off a summer softball season that saw her help lead the Missouri select team she played for to a runner-up finish in the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) national tournament in Orange County, Calif.

“I’m surprised more teams just don’t walk her more,” Monroe City coach Melissa Chinn said. “Audri has been very consistent for us.”

Youngblood, a Class 2 all-state player a year ago, also swatted a pair of triples and a single against Palmyra. She feels her busy schedule in recent months has benefitted her softball development.

“Summer ball is always a big help when your (high school) season is in the fall,” Youngblood said. “You just go right into the fall season after the summer.”

Monroe City’s victory over Palmyra raised its record to 5-1. Palmyra is 1-3.

“I think we’re all seeing the ball real well right now,” Youngblood said.

That was obvious from the game’s onset.

Monroe City scored in all five of its at-bats, plating five times in the third inning and four in the fifth. The final margin could easily have been worse — Monroe City left 10 runners on base.

“Everyone came out real energetic. Palmyra is always a big rivalry,” Chinn said. “Everything worked tonight. We still have a ways to go, but we’ll get there.”

Pratt was dominant en route to improving her record to 5-1. The lefty allowed just three hits, two by Palmyra lead-off hitter Lexie Peuster.

“This was a good all-around win for us,” said Pratt, a senior, who offered a mixture of  four pitches — screwball, changeup, rise and curve. “I probably used the screw the most.”

Some of Pratt’s off-speed pitches literally buckled the knees of Palmyra hitters. Pratt finished with 10 strikeouts. She recorded whiffs for six of the final seven outs.

Kiera Nash, Chalin Chapman and Ella Hays all added two hits for Monroe City. Both of Chapman’s hits were triples. Abigail Smith also laced a triple, giving Monroe City five three-baggers.

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