OTTAWA — If the Ottawa High School softball squad was going to have to be outside in Thursday's frigid temperatures anyway, it figured it might as well win ... just not take a whole lot of time doing it.
The Lady Pirates moved to a perfect 4-0 on the season, riding the combined five-hit pitching of Sloan Gayan and Abby Bukantis plus an aggressive offense both at the plate and on the bases to register a quick 10-0, five-inning victory over Rochelle in their NIB 12 West regular-season opener here at King Field.
Gayan went the first four innings, striking out 10, walking none and allowing just four hits, three of those in the third frame after a lengthy sit in the chilly dugout while her team grabbed her a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. They added two more in the third and a game-clinching six runs in the fourth, helped along by four Lady Hubs errors, before Bukantis cleaned it up with a scoreless fifth.
"I don't know if they like this cold weather or not, but they'd rather be playing than not," OHS coach Adam Lewis said with a laugh. "Hopefully we'll get the chance to play in this tomorrow and make it 5-0 for the season. ... Sloan and Abby pitched well, and we were aggressive today. That's our main thing, to really be aggressive on the bases. Even when we score a few more runs, we have to work on it and practice it, but that's one way we're trying to push more runs across, for sure.
"Things are starting to come together. We've had a couple girls playing different positions, sometimes in the lineup, sometimes not, players like Zoe Miller, Michaella Battistelli, Bukantis, they've all been able to fill their role and fill it very well actually. It's been good because we can play a lot of different lineups and not feel like we're falling off in any way."
Gayan fanned five of the first six hitters she faced, allowing only a line single to right by No. 2 hitter Teddi Haraga in the first. The Lady Pirates ace gave up a double to Maddi O'Rorke and a single to Mandi Lamb to start the third, but O'Rorke was erased at home on the front of a double steal on a nice decision by second baseman Molly Harris. Gayan then allowed a harmless double before striking out five in a row to finish her stretch.
Meanwhile, back-to-back doubles by Harris and Bailey Simpson and a single by Cassie Claus plated those two second-inning runs for OHS, while consecutive singles by Jazzy Bowman (one of her three hits on the day), Gayan and Harris and a sacrifice fly by Simpson added two more in the third.
But the game was put away in the fourth when hits by Bowman, Gayan and Teegan Guerrero combined with the only walk issued by losing pitcher Bella Lodico and four Hubs miscues to plate the final six runs.
Bukantis allowed a hit and a walk in the visitors fifth, but shut the door to send everyone to the warmth of their cars.
"We were really happy with the at-bats our girls got, eventually catching up to her," said Rochelle coach Lindsay Nauman. "We knew that she was going to be tough, that she was quick, and we were happy with the way we put the ball in play against her. We had some good, solid hits off of her. ...
"Our pitcher did a really good job for us. We just have to figure things out defensively. That's been our struggle all season so far, and we talk about it and work on it. It's coming, but not quite there yet."
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 10, Rochelle 0 (5 inn.)
ROCHELLE (0) — Salinas cf 3-0-2-0, Haraga ss 3-0-1-0, Abdellah lf 2-0-0-0, Bunger 2b 2-0-0-0, Lodico p 2-0-0-0, Meyers 1b 2-0-0-0, Luxton 3b 2-0-0-0, O'Rorke c 2-0-1-0, Ferrari cr 0-0-0-0, Lamb dp 1-0-1-0, Collins rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 19-0-5-0.
OTTAWA (10) — Nink 1b 2-0-0-0, Bukantis p 1-1-0-0, Bowman cf 3-2-3-0, Gayan p-dp 3-2-2-1, Harris 2b 3-2-2-1, Simpson c 2-1-1-2, C. Claus lf 3-0-1-1, Sandovel lf 0-0-0-0, Guerrero ss 3-1-1-0, Battistelli dp-1b 1-1-0-0, Miller rf 0-0-0-0, A. Claus 3b 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-10-10-5.
Rochelle (0-6) 000 00 — 0 5 5
Ottawa (4-0) 022 6x — 10 10 0
LOB - Rochelle 5, Ottawa 3. 2B - Salinas, Harris, Simpson. SF - Simpson. SB - Lamb, Harris 2, Bowman.
Rochelle ip r er h bb k
Lodico (L) 4.0 10 6 10 1 5
Gayan (W) 4.0 0 0 4 0 10
Bukantis 1.0 0 0 1 1 2