OTTAWA — It's not often that a team can surrender eight runs in the top of the first inning and not even bat an eye.
That's because the Marquette Academy team would much rather bat the ball than that eye.
After Midland jumped out with eight runs in its first turn opportunity at the plate, the Lady Crusaders calmly went about business as usual and turned the game completely around, going from that deficit to a 15-8 lead just an inning later and cruising to a 23-8 Tri-County Conference win over the Lady Timberwolves here at June Gross Field.
Makenna Tkach came on in relief of MA starter Mallory Martini to stop that rally and held the visitors to just two hits over the next 4 2/3 shutout innings. She also starred in the second spot of the order between leadoff hitter Emily Owens and No. 3 hitter Allie Snook to help that trio go a combined 11-for-13 with 12 runs scored, a triple, three homers and 14 runs batted in for the game.
For the day, Marquette slammed 18 hits and took advantage of eight walks issued by Midland pitchers Kyleigh Forsythe and reliever Lexi Keedy to move to 14-4 overall and a perfect 9-0 in the T-C.
"The first inning was a bit of a wake-up call, for sure," said MA assistant Rob Snook, filling in for the day for head coach Dave Tkach. "They came out and put the bat on the ball, Nos. 1 through 9, a few solid hits, a few that fell into some holes, but they sure had a rhythm going in the first inning and we couldn't stop it. Thankfully, we could bring in Teke, and she shut it down ... and the bats did the rest."
In fairness to Martini, the Lady Cru's junior starter in the circle, she issued no walks and there was only one ball hit solidly off her in Midland's opening rally, that being a two-run home run off the bat of No. 3 hitter Sam Schupp. The rest of their eight hits in the frame were slow-rolling dribblers in the infield or soft, high-arcing floaters just out of the reach of the infielders that barely bent the outfield grass when they landed.
Tkach, who was playing center field, took over with the bases loaded and, after giving up a two-RBI single to Schupp — giving Schupp four in the inning — Tkach struck out seven of the next eight T-Wolves she faced through three innings. She gave up just one more hit, Schupp's third of the day in the fourth.
Meanwhile, the MA bats got busy, led by Emily Owens (3-for-3 with her first career home run, five runs scored, five RBIs), Tkach (3-for-5, a triple, three runs and three RBIs) and Snook (5-for-5 with two homers, four runs, six RBIs).
Snook's first homer, a two-run job, highlighted a three-run first before the hosts sent 16 batters to the plate in a 12-run second inning. A run-scoring double off the fence in left by Abbey Owens, a two-run triple to right by Tkach, a two-RBI single to right by Emily Owns and run-scoring hits from Snook and Ellen Wheatland fueled the lead-changing outburst.
The Lady Cru added six more in the third, highlighted by a three-run homer by Emily Owens and a two-run shot by Snook, her second, and two runs in the fourth.
"We were definitely hitting the ball hard today," said Rob Snook. "The girls were patient in the box and didn't swing at any bad pitches, and we started getting some good hits and scored some runs. All the way through the order, a lot of good contact.
"When we swing at good pitches and put the bat on the ball, it actually translates into playing well in the field, too. The pitching stays ahead in the counts, the defense is on their toes and stays strong. When we fall behind in counts, we get lackadaisical in the field, but not today.
"We have a rhythm going, we're playing confident, and that's really fun to watch."
At June Gross Field, Ottawa
Marquette 23, Midland 8 (5 inn.)
MIDLAND (8) — Babinski 2b 3-0-1-1, Poignant 1b 3-1-1-0, Schupp ss 3-1-3-4, Wampler cf 3-1-1-0, Romaker 3b 3-1-1-0, Anthony c 3-1-1-1, Halsall lf 3-1-1-0, Highsmith rf 3-1-0-1, Forsythe p 1-1-1-0, Keedy p 1-0-0-0. Totals 26-8-10-6.
MARQUETTE (23) — E. Owens c-ss 3-5-3-5, Tkach cf-p 5-3-3-3, Snook 1b 5-4-5-6, Wheatland ss 4-0-1-1, Machetta lf 1-0-0-0, McConnaughhay 3b 2-2-1-0, Cowie 2b-cf 1-1-0-0, Cottingham c 1-0-0-0, E. Thomas dp 1-2-0-1, Martini p-2b 1-0-0-0, McCallum lf 3-2-2-1, A. Thomas cf 1-0-0-0, A. Owens rf 2-3-2-2, Bowden rf 1-1-1-0. Totals 31-23-18-19.
Midland (1-16, 0-8) 800 00 — 8 10 1
Marquette (14-4, 9-0) 3(12)6 2x — 23 18 0
LOB - Midland 3, Marquette 5. 2B - A. Owens. 3B - Tkach. HR - Schupp, Snook 2, E. Owens. SB - E. Owens 2, McCallum. HBP - E. Owens (by Forsythe).
Midland ip r er h bb k
Forsythe (L) 1.2 12 12 5 7 1
Keedy 2.1 11 9 13 1 0
Martini 0.1 8 8 8 0 0
Tkach (W) 4.2 0 0 2 0 10