STERLING — Molly Harris' home run leading off the top of the seventh inning — a 25-foot-high blast to straightaway left field — gave the Ottawa Lady Pirates a 1-0 win over the Illinois Coaches Association Class 3A top-ranked Sterling Golden Warriors in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division showdown Tuesday afternoon.
The "W" by the Lady Pirates (12-1 overall, 5-1 NIB 12) — Ottawa's first over Sterling since 2009 (17 games) — avenged an earlier loss this season to the Golden Warriors (12-1, 4-1).
"It was an awesome game," Lady Pirates coach Adam Lewis said. "(Ottawa pitcher) Sloan (Gayan) was dialed in, and they didn't hit anything solid. Bailey (Simpson) had a great game at the plate making constant solid contact.
"I would be kidding myself to pretend beating Sterling wasn't a huge goal in the back of our girls' minds. In the end, it's hopefully just a stepping stone to bigger things — but, it's obviously a big stone."
Gayan fired a two-hit shutout, striking out eight batters and walking none. She outdueled fellow all-stater Jayme Eilers (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K) in the circle.
Simpson went 2-for-3 at the plate for Ottawa. Jenna Nink tallied the other hit.