OTTAWA — Facing stiff competition, the Ottawa Lady Pirates needed to step up their play Saturday morning.
They went out and put together their "best" effort this spring out on the diamond.
OHS senior Jazzy Bowman delivered a clutch RBI double to break a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. That run was enough for ace pitcher Sloan Gayan, who was backed with errorless defense, as the Lady Pirates edged ICA Class 4A No. 12 state-ranked St. Charles East 1-0 at King Field.
"We were all excited when (Lady Pirates coach) Adam (Lewis) told us that he scheduled this. We were looking forward to playing top competition," Bowman said. "I'm really proud of how all of us played today; we played really well against a good team.
"This is a good team to play (and beat) for our program trying to get noticed and get ranked. (Getting this win will) help us definitely moving forward. I think we're on the right track for doing big things this year."
Ottawa — after leaving a trio of runners stranded in scoring position through the initial four innings of play — was finally able to dent the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, leadoff batter Jenna Nink (2-for-3, two doubles) ripped a double into the right-center field gap. Bowman proceeded to drive Nink home by smacking a double over the center fielder's head.
"Jenna absolutely turned on an inside pitch and hammered it, and then Jazzy, when we really needed something out of the infield and maybe not on the ground, just hammered that ball," Lewis said.
"It was kind of in my head about striking out twice before that," Bowman admitted, "so I was just thinking, put the ball in play, and it went."
The Fighting Saints put the tying run at second base in top of the seventh inning. Alex Wooten led off the frame for St. Charles East (11-3) with a single. Hannah Cozzi followed with a sacrifice bunt. Gayan, who had retired nine batters in a row prior to Wooten's hit, bore down, though, fanning the final two hitters to close the contest.
St. Charles East got a pair of singles during the third from Krista Sbarra and Sara Campagna. However, Sbarra was thrown out at the plate on the back end of a double-steal attempt, which was perfectly-executed defensively by second baseman Molly Harris and catcher Bailey Simpson.
"Molly cut the ball, made a good read on the third-base runner and just made a great throw; Bailey stayed (at the plate) and put a good tag down," Lewis said.
Gayan fired a three-hit shutout. She didn't walk a batter and struck out eight.
"I think (my pitching) was a lot better," Gayan stated. "My riseball looked a lot better today ... which I needed it. Today, I just felt not as nervous, more comfortable in the circle (than versus Sterling)."
"Sloan was definitely dialed in," said Lewis, who added that St. Charles East freshman Katie Arrambide (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K) also threw extremely well. "She was getting ahead of hitters and getting ahead of them with movement pitches. And then her riseball was really jumping today.
"It's kind of ironic that we only scored one run when I think that's probably the best at-bats and the hardest we've hit the ball all season; just, again, happened to be right at people.
"They're a really good team, and, I mean, that's why we brought St. Charles East and Huntley down. You know, we want to play the best teams we can find to try to get better every game, and this is how you do it. So I was really proud of our girls for playing such a clean game and really just staying aggressive. We played fast all the way through.
"It was definitely the best game we've played all season. It's a really good win and were looking to build on it."
Ottawa 5, Huntley 4
That confidence boost carried into Saturday afternoon, as Harris' walk-off, run-scoring single in the home half of the seventh gave the Lady Pirates (10-1) the win over the ninth-ranked Red Raiders.
Nink (three runs scored), Bowman (double), Gayan (two runs batted in) and Simpson were all 2-for-3 at the plate. Harris had two RBIs.
Gayan went the distance in the circle to record the win. She allowed four runs (two earned) and 11 hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 1, St. Charles East 0
ST. CHARLES EAST (0) — Candre cf 3-0-0-0, Wooten 1b 3-0-1-0, Cozzi rf 2-0-0-0, Ligocki c 3-0-0-0, Arrambide p 3-0-0-0, Stout lf 2-0-0-0, Sbarra 2b 2-0-1-0, Byas dp 2-0-0-0, Gheorghe ss 0-0-0-0, Campagna 3b 2-0-1-0. Totals 22-0-3-0.
OTTAWA (1) — Nink 1b 3-1-2-0, Bowman cf 3-0-1-1, Gayan p 3-0-0-0, Harris 2b 3-0-0-0, Simpson c 3-0-0-0, C. Claus lf 2-0-0-0, A. Claus 3b 2-0-1-0, Turk dp 2-0-0-0, Miller rf 0-0-0-0, Guerrero ss 2-0-1-0. Totals 23-1-5-1.
St. Charles E. (11-3) 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Ottawa (9-1) 000 010 x — 1 5 0
LOB — St. Charles East 2, Ottawa 5. 2B — Nink 2, Bowman. SAC — Cozzi, C. Claus. SB — Nink. CS — Sbarra.
St. Charles E. ip r er h bb k
Arrambide (L, 7-2) 6 1 1 5 0 8
Ottawa ip r er h bb k
Gayan (W, 8-1) 7 0 0 3 0 8