OTTAWA — Jenna Nink continued to rake Thursday afternoon.
This time, the Geneseo Lady Leafs.
The Ottawa Lady Pirates' sophomore sensation leadoff hitter, whose bat has been red hot all season, connected for an early two-run homer, a bomb that lifted her teammates.
Nink's third-inning home run — in addition to what turned out to be the contest-deciding hit courtesy of Teegan Guerrero — the usual pitching of Sloan Gayan and solid defense resulted in Ottawa edging ICA Class 3A No. 14 state-ranked Geneseo 3-2 in another Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division showdown at King Field.
"We were just trying to do all the small things right; we just wanted to have a good game," Nink said. "We played really solid today all-around. Sloan did great in the circle, and our defense was really smooth.
"We've been practicing hard, and I think it really showed this week."
Geneseo starting and losing pitcher Jane Thomas (4 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K) retired the initial eight batters she faced. With two outs in the bottom of the third, No. 9 hitter Guerrero dropped a hit into center field. Nink proceeded to drive home both Guerrero and herself with the clout.
"I was just trying to get my pitch, trying to be very selective in the batter's box and just get a pitch that I could drive, and it happened," Nink said. "It felt great when I hit it."
"It's not easy to hit one out of this park in right-center," Lady Pirates coach Adam Lewis said, "and that ball was laced. Jenna absolutely laced that ball to right-center. She hammered that."
After being set down 1-2-3 its first three trips up to the plate, Geneseo (14-6 overall, 3-3 NIB 12) was able to get some baserunners against Gayan. Ava Bieneman, a sophomore who's committed to Division I Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, led off the top of the fourth inning by slapping a liner up the middle for a hit. She later came in to score on Allison Yager's fielder's choice to the outfield.
Ottawa (14-1, 6-1), after the Lady Leafs orphaned a runner at third base in the top of the fifth, tallied a key one in the bottom half off Geneseo junior reliever and Northern Illinois University commit Delaney Ostrowski (2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 3 K). Freshman Cassie Turk golfed a triple to the right-center field gap. Guerrero (2-for-2) followed with a flare over the shortstop's head to score Turk and make it a 3-1 ballgame.
"That's a big spot coming up as a freshman and you've only had a handful of at-bats on the varsity, and (Cassie) blasted one to right-center," Lewis said. "And it was great to see (Teegan) get two hits and actually spur that inning we had in the third."
Geneseo got a run back in the sixth inning on a Yager sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. But that was as close as the Lady Leafs would get.
"We didn't take advantage of a few opportunities. You've got to get the two-out RBI," said Geneseo coach Pat Mitchell of his Lady Leafs, who stranded a trio of runners in scoring position, including a pair 60 feet away. "And what (Gayan is) good at is if you get people on base, she's capable of striking people out ... (and) where Ottawa's gotten better is their defense."
Gayan went the distance in the circle. She allowed two runs (one earned) and four hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts.
"Jenna's home run was awesome. It gave me confidence going out into the circle knowing that we had some runs," Gayan said. "With me not pitching my best, the defense definitely backed me up and helped me get outs.
"(Beating Geneseo and Sterling on Tuesday) just makes us believe in ourselves a lot more knowing that we can beat anybody."
"This was a huge week for our program, for every one of these girls," Lewis said. "That's four ranked teams (we've beaten) in (six) days. I couldn't be happier right now."
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 3, Geneseo 2
GENESEO (2) — Bieneman 2b 3-1-1-0, Ostrowski 1b/p 3-0-1-0, Allen cr 0-1-0-0, Gilmore c 3-0-1-0, Spindel lf 1-0-0-0, McKeag 1b 1-0-0-0, Yager dp/lf 2-0-0-2, Himmelman cf 0-0-0-0, McAvoy ss 3-0-0-0, J. Thomas p 3-0-1-0, M. Thomas 3b 3-0-0-0, Weller rf 1-0-0-0, Mitchell rf 1-0-0-0. Totals 24-2-4-2.
OTTAWA (3) — Nink 1b 3-1-1-2, Bowman cf 3-0-1-0, Gayan p 3-0-0-0, Harris 2b 3-0-0-0, Simpson c 3-0-1-0, C. Claus lf 3-0-0-0, A. Claus 3b 2-0-0-0, Turk dp/rf 2-1-1-0, Miller rf 0-0-0-0, Guerrero ss 2-1-2-1. Totals 24-3-6-3.
Geneseo (14-6, 3-3) 000 101 0 — 2 4 2
Ottawa (14-1, 6-1) 002 010 x — 3 6 1
LOB – Geneseo 5, Ottawa 3. 2B – Gilmore. 3B – Turk. HR – Nink. SAC – Weller. SF – Yager. SB – Guerrero. CS – Harris.
Geneseo ip r er h bb k
J. Thomas (L, 8-5) 4 2 2 3 0 5
Ostrowski 2 1 1 3 0 3
Ottawa ip r er h bb k
Gayan (W, 11-1) 7 2 1 4 1 10