OTTAWA — To say that the softball proceedings Tuesday afternoon at June Gross Field between the Marquette Lady Crusaders and the Henry-Senachwine Lady Mallards were rather unusual would be understating the obvious to most.
H-S coach Lori Stenstrom opted to send to the circle lightly-used pitcher Alyda Cotty, who lobbed every offering to her catcher with little to no velocity. That was enough to somewhat unnerve the hot-hitting Cru, who a day earlier had hammered out a 12 run, five-inning victory over a more conventional Lady Mallard hurler.
But in the end, Marquette managed just fine, registering seven hits against Cotty during a 7-0 triumph that completed a title-winning perfect 12-0 run through the 2018 Tri-County Conference schedule for the third consecutive season.
Marquette, now 18-4 overall and the No. 6 ranked team in this week's Illinois Coaches Association Class 1A poll, also used the day to honor its four seniors and their families before the contest. Twin sisters Abbey and Emily Owens and fellow senior standouts Makena McConnaughhay and Allie Snook got the opportunity to take a well-deserved bow before each collected at least one hit during the oddly-contested affair.
Lady Cru pitcher Makenna Tkach (1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K) combined with winning reliever Mallory Martini (6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K) to hold H-S to just two hits on the day, with Martini improving her record in the circle to 3-0 on the year.
Cotty took the loss in just her first start for H-S, but hung in there despite her ultra-slow approach.
"The slow pitching like that can be just as hard to adjust to sometimes as when you face somebody that throws very hard and fast," said Marquette skipper Dave Tkach. "It was very different than what we normally see, but overall it was a good performance by our players and some of the girls who don't usually get as much playing time. We went undefeated in conference again, which is a source of pride. I think we've got a really good team, especially with those four seniors leading the way this year."
H-S (6-10, 3-8) received its only two hits from Taylor Robbins and Angelina Hedrick, but Stenstrom was encouraged with her club's performance after the big blowout on Monday.
"We didn't play well at all against Marquette yesterday, but today we came back and looked a little better," Stenstrom said. "Sometimes slow pitching like (Cotty's) can throw a very good team like Marquette off a little and I guess it did to some extent today."
The Lady Mallards committed three errors in the bottom of the first, leading to a trio of Lady Cru unearned runs. Lead-off hitter Emily Owens reached on a miscue and Abbey Owens doubled to left, then McConnaughhay plated Emily Owens with a sacrifice fly to right. Snook reached on an error which scored Abbey Owens and eventually tallied on the third H-S gaff of the frame.
Marquette added two more in the second to go up 5-0. McConnaughhay (2-for-2) stroked an RBI single while Makenna Tkach also provided a run-scoring at bat.
The Lady Crusaders added a single marker in the fourth on a McConnaughhay base hit, a Snook double and Megan Machetta's RBI groundout. One more unearned run followed in the sixth that ended the senior day scoring.
"The seniors all tell me I'm going to miss them and I know I will because they're all good kids with their own personalities," Coach Tkach said. "They've made a special bond that hopefully the underclassmen can carry on with them. The intangible things that they've all brought to our club are invaluable. I'm so proud of them and we're sure going to miss them next season no doubt about that."
At June Gross Field, Ottawa
Marquette 7, Henry-Senachwine 0
HENRY-SENACHWINE (0) — Wiedman ss 3-0-0-0, Condit c 3-0-0-0, Wright dp 2-0-0-0, Robbins 3b 3-0-1-0, Hedrick 2b 3-0-1-0, Hufnagel lf 3-0-0-0, Schrock 1b 3-0-0-0, Kowitz cf 3-0-0-0, Cheney rf 2-0-0-0, Cotty p 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-0-2-0.
MARQUETTE (7) — E. Owens c 3-2-1-0, A. Owens rf 4-1-1-0, McConnaughhay 3b/ss 2-2-2-2, Snook 1b 3-1-1-0, Tkach p 4-0-2-1, Wheatland ss 1-0-0-0, Machetta 3b 2-0-0-1, McCallum lf 1-0-0-0, Bowden lf 2-0-0-0, Cowie 2b 1-0-0-0, Martini dp 1-1-0-0, E. Thomas cf 1-0-0-0. Totals 27-7-7-5.
Henry (6-10, 3-8) 000 000 0 — 0 2 5
Marquette (18-4, 12-0) 320 101 x — 7 7 2
LOB – H-S 5; Marquette 8. 2B – A. Owens, Snook, Tkach. SF – McConnaughhay.
Henry ip r er h bb k
Cotty (L) 6.0 7 3 7 5 2
Tkach 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
Martini (W, 3-0) 6.0 0 0 2 0 2