OTTAWA — Simply put, the Ottawa Lady Pirates went out onto the softball diamond Thursday afternoon and took care of business.
Good hitting, heads-up baserunning, along with solid pitching and defense resulted in Ottawa — rated No. 2 in the current Illinois Coaches Association Class 3A state poll — beating DeKalb 12-1 in five innings in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover game at King Field.
"You know, I don't know if the score is indicative of their ballclub; I don't think their record is either," Lady Pirates coach Adam Lewis said of the Barbs (5-15 overall, 0-9 NIB 12), who played division leaders Sterling (co-leaders of the West with Ottawa) and Sycamore (East) to one-run ballgames.
"I thought we did a really nice job just trying to execute what we do. (The message for the girls prior to the game was) just play loose, play aggressive."
DeKalb actually tallied the initial run during the opening frame against Ottawa starter Abby Bukantis. Amanda DuBeau led off with a soft liner into center field for a hit. With two outs, cleanup hitter Aubrae Lewis drove DuBeau home by lacing a double to the left-center gap.
The Lady Pirates (18-2, 8-1) immediately responded — in a big way.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Jazzy Bowman got the Lady Pirate offense going by dropping a hit over the shortstop's head on the lip of the outfield grass. Sloan Gayan followed with a double over the center fielder's head to score Bowman. Molly Harris proceeded with a two-run homer to left field, her fifth long ball of the season and third of the week. Later, Cassie Turk, Teegan Guerrero, Bowman (infield), Gayan (two-run) and Bailey Simpson all brought in runs with singles.
In addition to the 10-hit inning — with Bowman, Gayan, Harris and Simpson all providing a pair of knocks — Gayan got Ottawa a couple more runs on the basepaths.
When the damage was done, 15 Lady Pirates had come to bat — 11 of whom eventually crossed the plate.
"We came out jumping on strikes. We weren't hesitant with the bats," Adam Lewis said. "When (the ball) came over the plate, we drove the ball, hit it hard. We just took good aggressive swings on good pitches to hit.
"I thought our baserunning was extremely good. It's something we've been working on, and it's nice to be able to get it implemented (into a game). We were able to get a couple runs there in the first."
Ottawa tacked on another run in the third. Bowman reached on an error and stole second base before scoring on a Gayan hit.
Gayan went 3-for-3 at the plate with four runs batted in to pace the Lady Pirates' offense. Bowman (three runs scored), Harris, Simpson and Turk were all 2-for-3.
Meanwhile, the freshman Bukantis (5-0) allowed just that earned run during the first and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
"With the exception of a couple of hits in the first inning, (Abby) really had them off-balance and they didn't hit a lot solid after that," Adam Lewis said. "I thought she did a really nice job."
Focus will be key for the Lady Pirates down the stretch.
"We've got to take (games) one at a time," Coach Lewis said. "(The girls) have to continuously make an effort to show up, play with enthusiasm, play fast and make sure they don't mail it in. And today, they definitely did all that."
At King Field, Ottawa
Ottawa 12, DeKalb 1 (5 inn.)
DEKALB (1) — DuBeau cf 3-1-1-0, J. Levine 1b 3-0-0-0, Warner ss 3-0-1-0, Lewis 3b 3-0-1-1, Jensen rf 2-0-2-0, Newport p 2-0-0-0, Nelson dp/p 1-0-0-0, Millard c 0-0-0-0, Hanlon lf 1-0-0-0, Kiley 2b 2-0-0-0. Totals 20-1-5-1.
OTTAWA (12) — Nink rf 2-1-0-0, Miller rf/cr 1-0-0-0, Bowman cf 3-3-2-1, Sandoval lf 0-0-0-0, Gayan 1b 3-2-3-4, Harris 2b/ss 3-2-2-2, Simpson c 3-1-2-1, C. Claus lf 3-1-0-0, Turk dp/cf 3-1-2-1, Bukantis p 0-0-0-0, A. Claus 3b/2b 3-0-1-0, Guerrero ss 2-1-1-1, Battistelli ph/3b 1-0-0-0. Totals 27-12-13-10.
DeKalb (5-15, 0-9) 100 00 — 1 5 1
Ottawa (18-2, 8-1) (11)01 0x — 12 13 1
LOB — DeKalb 6, Ottawa 4. 2B — Warner, Lewis, Jensen, Gayan. HR — Harris. HBP — Nink (by Newport). SB — Bowman 2.
DeKalb ip r er h bb k
Newport (L, 3-10) 2 11 11 11 0 4
Nelson 2 1 0 2 0 2
Ottawa ip r er h bb k
Bukantis (W, 5-0) 5 1 1 5 2 4