OTTAWA — Oftentimes in girls softball, it isn't always easy to adjust from facing a high-velocity pitcher to a slower speed hurler.
Such was the case for the Marquette Lady Crusaders on Tuesday afternoon as they battled Tri-County Conference foe Lowpoint-Washburn/Roanoke-Benson.
Wildcats veteran coach Tony Davis opted to start light-throwing right-hander Kelsey Marlow in the circle in hopes of disrupting the timing of the hard-hitting Lady Cru, who predominantly see pitchers that bring significant speed and movement.
The strategy worked for the first couple of innings before the Marquette bats started to come around, hammering 11 hits throughout a 10-0, five-inning victory here at June Gross Field in Ottawa.
The Lady Crusaders (9-3, 6-0 TCC) also took advantage of four L-W/R-B errors to plate seven unearned runs, while starting pitcher Makenna Tkach (9-3) earned the victory by combining with reliever Mallory Martini to hold the Wildcats to just one hit.
Marquette — the No. 10-ranked team in this week's Illinois Coaches Association Class 1A poll — ended up winning the contest in walk-off fashion during the bottom of the fifth when all-stater Allie Snook blasted a one-out, bases-loaded single to right that scored Emma Thomas with the 10th run for the Lady Cru.
Snook went 2-for-4 on the day, while Ellen Wheatland was 2-for-2 with a walk, a triple and three runs batted in. Megan Machetta also chipped in with a double and two RBIs as Marquette adjusted to the different style of pitching and remained perfect so far in the T-CC loop.
"It took us a little while to get used to their pitcher, and once we put the bat on the ball good things happened," said MHS coach Dave Tkach. "Our remark for today before the game was defense for our pitchers. We didn't make any errors, and both Makenna and Mallory pitched well.
"It was a solid win I was happy with."
L-W/R-B (2-7, 2-5 T-CC) had a difficult time with Makenna Tkach (4 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 7 K), recording only one squib infield hit in the second inning off the bat of Alex Malec. Additionally, not one single ball left the Marquette infield on the day as the Wildcats hung in there but in the end just couldn't stay with the powerful Lady Cru.
"The errors killed us today, and after three innings it should really have been a one- or two-run game," Davis said. "I knew they were having a hard time adjusting to my pitcher, and that was my plan going with my No. 3 (Marlow), but they're such a good team, and to hold them to just 10-0, I'm happy with that. Three earned runs for that team against us, I'll take that any day.
"Plus their pitcher (Tkach) is just so good. I'm just glad we put the ball in play a few times against her and didn't get no-hit. I'm proud of my girls for hanging with a great team like Marquette."
The Lady Cru first touched Marlow (4.1 IP, 3 ER, 11 H, 6 BB, 1 K) in the bottom of the second when Makena McConnaughhay led off with a walk and immediately scored after Wheatland's triple to right. Two Wildcat errors ensued from there as Marquette plated two unearned runs to go up 3-0 after two.
One more marker followed in the third. Snook led off with a double and plated one out later after Wheatland's single to make the score 4-0.
Another critical L-W/R-B miscue led to five unearned runs for the Lady Cru in the fourth. Key in the rally was an RBI double from Makenna Tkach, a bases-loaded walk to Wheatland and a two-run double to right-center from Machetta that pushed the lead to 9-0.
That set the stage for Snook's walk-off heroics in the fifth and today's high-powered, nonconference matchup with rival Seneca, who will come to Ottawa with a sparkling 18-1 record.
"It was a good win today, and hopefully the girls will be up for the challenge tomorrow against Seneca," Coach Tkach said. "The fans should see a pretty good game, I'd think."
At June Gross Field, Ottawa
Marquette 10, Lowpoint-Washburn/Roanoke-Benson 0 (5 inn.)
L-W/R-B (0) — Laible c 2-0-0-0, Braman ss 2-0-0-0, Logan lf 2-0-0-0, Nodine lf 0-0-0-0, Van Meter 3b 2-0-0-0, Malec cf 1-0-1-0, Petty cf 0-0-0-0, Clark rf 1-0-0-0, Feazel rf 1-0-0-0, Marlow p 2-0-0-0, Johnson 2b 1-0-0-0, Jones 1b 1-0-0-0. Totals 15-0-1-0.
MARQUETTE (10) — E. Owens c 3-1-1-1, Cottingham ph 0-0-0-0, Tkach p/2b 3-1-1-1, A. Thomas ph 1-0-0-0, Snook 1b 4-1-2-1, McConnaughhay 3b 1-2-0-0, Wheatland ss 2-2-3-3, McCallum lf 2-0-0-0, Machetta lf 1-0-1-2, Martini 2b/p 2-0-1-0, Cowie dp 2-2-1-0, E. Thomas cf 1-1-1-0, A. Owens rf 1-0-1-0, Bowden rf 1-0-0-0. Totals 24-10-11-8.
L-W/R-B (2-7, 2-5) 000 00 — 0 1 4
Marquette (9-3, 6-0) 031 51 – 10 11 0
LOB – L-W/R-B 1; Marquette 4. 2B – Tkach, Snook, Machetta. 3B – Wheatland. SB – E. Owens, McConnaughhay, Cowie, A. Owens. CS – Malec, Martini.
L-W/R-B ip r er h bb k
Marlow (L, 0-1) 4.1 10 3 11 6 1
Tkach (W, 9-3) 4.0 0 0 1 0 7
Martini 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
Game ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth.