STREATOR — Streator first-year varsity coach Dawn Williams was talking before Monday afternoon's season opener against visiting La Salle-Peru about how she was going to be able to see what her team needed to work on after finally playing a game.
Other than a handful of overaggressive swings at the plate and a couple of mental lapses in the field, the Lady Bulldogs played pretty well against the Lady Cavaliers despite a 4-2 loss here at cold and windy SHS Athletic Fields.
"I found out today that as infielders we need to be quicker, we need to know what we are going to do with the ball on defense when we get it, and we need to keep working on pitch selection at the plate," said Williams. "Maybe the girls were a little bit nervous with it being our first game, but I felt they swung at a number of pitches that they knew they shouldn't have, but we needed a game to show us some of those things.
Both starting pitchers — Streator junior Anna Yanek and L-P senior Taylor Donnell —cruised through the opening three frames, but the Lady Cavs took a 1-0 lead when junior Mary Claire Tomminello golfed a 1-2 dropball up into the strong wind blowing out towards left field and over the fence for her first career home run.
La Salle-Peru (2-0) extended its lead in the fifth with three hits and three Streator mental errors. Kaelyn Franklin led off the inning with a single to right and advanced all the way around to third on a sacrifice bunt by No. 9-hitter Tatum Pyszka. Leadoff hitter Josie Walter followed with another bunt and Franklin looked to be to far off the bag, but was able to scamper back, with Walter going to second. Gena Fassino made it three straight bunts, but confusion on the infield as to where to throw the ball allowed Franklin to score and the other two runners to be safe to make it 2-0. Donnell followed with an RBI single and Kara Turczyn a run-scoring groundout to make it 4-0.
"We have practiced that situation a lot and we have three signs, bunt for a sacrifice, bunt for a hit and suicide squeeze. The second bunt (by Walter), Franklin almost got caught too far off third, but was able to get back. It worked out the next hitter, and we were able to get a couple more in after that," said L-P coach Randy Huebbe.
"I also thought both pitchers did an excellent job of keeping the ball down, and that has to be the game plan when the wind is blowing like it was today. It was a tough day to hit, but we thought we might be able to get one up in the air, and we did."
Streator (0-1) rallied for a pair of runs in its half of the sixth to close the gap to 4-2. Sophomore Ellie Magana cracked a one-out single to left, and an out later junior Chloe Castillo drew a walk. Left-handed hitting catcher Maddie Barichello then lined a two-out, opposite-field double to the gap which plated both Magana and Castillo to give the hosts life.
"Maddie has a great eye for the ball. I just think she is so focused and determined in those situations and confident in her ability to get a hit when that time comes," Williams said.
However, Donnell (2-0), who allowed just five hits and fanned eight in a complete-game effort, was able to secure the final out of the sixth, then shake off an inning-opening single by Grace Schmitz in the seventh by retiring the final three hitters via strikeout.
Yanek (0-1) took the loss in the circle for SHS after giving up seven hits while striking out four and not issuing a base on balls.
"We have three pitchers this year, and all of them are going to see time out there, but today I felt Anna really threw the ball well," said Williams.
Streator will look to rebound when it travels to play Marquette on Wednesday at June Gross Field, first pitch at 4:30 p.m.
At SHS Athletic Fields, Streator
La Salle-Peru 4, Streator 2
LA SALLE-PERU (4) — Walter rf 4-1-1-0, Fassino cf 4-1-1-1, Donnell p 3-0-1-1, Rietgraf cr 0-0-0-0, Turczyn ss 3-0-0-1, Tomminello 2b 3-1-1-1, Stuart c 3-0-2-0, Roda cr 0-0-0-0, Gibson 3b 3-0-0-0, Franklin 1b 3-1-1-0, Pyszka dp 2-0-0-0, Wright lf 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-4-7-4.
STREATOR (2) — McClellan rf 4-0-0-0, Magana 2b 3-1-2-0, Yanek p 3-0-0-0, Davis cr 0-0-0-0, Castillo 3b 2-1-1-0, Barichello c 3-0-1-2, Gubbels cr 0-0-0-0, Durdan cf 3-0-0-0, Schmitz 1b 3-0-1-0, Adkins ss 2-0-0-0, Aukland lf 2-0-0-0. Totals 25-2-5-2.
La Salle-Peru (2-0) 000 130 0 — 4 7 0
Streator (0-1) 000 002 0 — 2 5 1
DP — Streator 1. LOB — La Salle-Peru 4, Streator 5. 2B — Barichello. HR — Tomminello. SB — Fassino, Rietgraf, Tomminello, Roda. SAC — Pyszka, Aukland.
L-P ip r er h bb k
Donnell (W, 2-0) 7 2 2 5 2 8
Yanek (L, 0-1) 7 4 4 7 0 4