OTTAWA — After Marquette's Makena Tkach quickly struck out the first batter during Tuesday afternoon's Tri-County Conference contest with Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell, it was quite apparent she was going to be mighty hard to beat.
The junior right-hander went on to strike out the side in the top of the first, leading to a grand total of 14 Ks in just six innings of work as the Lady Crusaders eased away with an 8-2 victory over the Warriors here at June Gross Field in Ottawa.
Tkach upped her team's and her own overall record to 4-3 by recording the win, allowing just two runs on five hits and only one walk that went with the plethora of strikeouts.
Junior Mallory Martini came on to throw a scoreless final frame in relief as Marquette won its TCC season opener, with Tkach producing the dominant performance in the circle before exiting with the game firmly in hand.
"My pitches were moving today, and I was working on my riseball that they were chasing a little, so that helped," Tkach said. "I was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes, so when that happens it helps me out and I feel pretty confident. Overall, I felt pretty strong.
"It was nice to play our first conference game of the year and get a win."
Marquette — the No. 9-ranked team in last week's Illinois Coaches Association Class 1A poll — received a fine day at the plate from sophomore Ellen Wheatland, who doubled and hit her first home run of the season. Tkach also collected two hits, while Allie Snook and Abbey Owens each added a hit and two RBIs.
WFC (4-3, 2-1) managed to secure two hits apiece from freshman Audrey Jenkins and senior Kylie Kindermann, but the Warriors just had a difficult time dealing with the excellent effort Tkach put forth.
"She's a top-notch pitcher, and I was kind of hoping she might have a little letdown after the great game she threw against Morris (Monday), but I guess we weren't that lucky," said WFC coach Jordan Farris. "Marquette 's also a very disciplined team at the plate. One through nine they're very dangerous, and they're fundamentally sound.
"We found a couple of cracks in the dam and never really gave up and never gave them anything. They just earned everything they got, so give them credit."
The Lady Crusaders got to WFC starting and losing pitcher Shea Moritz (3 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 4 BB, 3 K) for two runs in the bottom of the second. Aubrey McCallum led off with a bunt and went to second on a throwing error. After Martini sacrificed McCallum to third, Emma Thomas reached on a fielder's choice and stole second. Abbey Owens then plated both McCallum and Thomas with a sharp single to left, and Marquette was up 2-0.
Two more runs came home for the Lady Cru in the third. After Makena McConnaughhay led off with a walk, Wheatland blasted a two-run homer over the fence in left-center to make the score 4-0.
"I just tried to look for my pitch, I found it, and it felt very good," Wheatland said with a big smile. "Honestly, I thought she was going to catch it. But (first-base coach) Rob (Snook) said, 'Slow down, slow down, it's out, it’s out.' I was like, 'No way,' but it made it."
The Warriors would cut the gap to 4-1 in the top of the fourth when they registered their first hit off Tkach. Jenkins led off with a double to left-center and tallied two batters later on Kindermann's RBI single to left.
But Marquette hit Moritz and relief pitcher August Gillman with four more runs in the bottom of the frame. Snook stroked a two-run single and eventually went to third on Wheatland's double. Hannah Cowie then lofted a sacrifice fly to right that scored Snook before Wheatland made the score 8-1 after plating on a wild pitch.
Jenkins led off the WFC sixth with a single before Kindermann added her second two-out RBI single of the afternoon, ending the day's scoring.
At June Gross Field, Ottawa
Marquette 8, Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell 2
WFC (2) — Kane ss 4-0-0-0, Jenkins 2b 3-2-2-0, Friese lf 3-0-0-0, Moritz p/rf 3-0-0-0, Kindermann 3b 3-0-2-2, Plesko rf/1b 3-0-0-0, Gillman 1b/p 2-0-1-0, Schwahn cr 0-0-0-0, Essman c 2-0-0-0, Easton cr 0-0-0-0, Waller cf 3-0-0-0, Dunahee rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 26-2-5-2.
MARQUETTE (8) — E. Owens c 3-1-1-0, Tkach p/2b 4-1-2-0, Snook 1b 3-1-1-2, McConnaughhay 3b 3-1-1-0, Wheatland ss 4-2-2-2, McCallum lf 2-1-1-0, A. Thomas lf 1-0-0-0, Machetta lf 0-0-0-0, Martini dp/p 0-0-0-0, Cowie 2b 0-0-0-1, E. Thomas cf 2-1-1-0, A. Owens rf 3-0-1-2, Bowden rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-8-10-7.
WFC (4-3, 2-1) 000 101 0 — 2 5 1
Marquette (4-3, 1-0) 022 400 x — 8 10 1
LOB – WFC 5; Marquette 7. 2B – Wheatland, Jenkins. HR – Wheatland. SB – E. Thomas 3, Jenkins, E. Owens, Martini. SAC – Essman, Martini. SF – Cowie. HBP – McCallum (by Gillman).
WFC ip r er h bb k
Moritz (L, 2-2) 3.0 7 6 8 4 3
Gillman 3.0 1 1 2 1 0
Tkach (W, 4-3) 6.0 2 2 5 1 14
Martini 1.0 0 0 0 0 0