OTTAWA — For all but one inning of Wednesday afternoon's softball battle with Streator, Marquette Academy pitcher Makena Tkach was nearly perfect in the circle.
Even in the frame that she wasn't spotless, however, in the end she proved to be awfully tough and turned in a whale of a performance helping the Lady Crusaders capture a 5-3 victory over the Lady Bulldogs here at June Gross Field in Ottawa.
The junior right-hander pitched a complete game, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits, walking only two and striking out a whopping 15 batters, 10 looking. Tkach (2-2) — who evened up her own pitching record along with her team's overall mark — got some good offensive help from senior teammates Emily Owens and Makena McConnaughhay, who both went 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles. Senior No. 9 hitter Abbey Owens also was a force, as she clubbed a two-run homer — the first round-tripper of her career — that proved to be the game-winning hit.
But it was Tkach's day to shine.
"I kept moving the ball in and out, and the umpire was giving us low and outside and low and inside strikes, so I just tried to work it there," Tkach said. "It was a lot warmer today than it was last weekend, so I felt pretty good out there. It was much easier to pitch in this weather."
Streator (0-2) got a solid performance from sophomore starting and losing pitcher Ellie Magana (6 IP, 5 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 5 K), who was throwing in her varsity debut. Magana fell victim of an error in the fourth that accounted for three unearned Marquette runs, but it was the plethora of strikeouts — especially looking — that really did in the Lady Bulldogs.
"For some reason we had the bats on our shoulders today and weren't very aggressive at the plate," said SHS first-year varsity coach Dawn Williams. "Then we finally started scoring in the sixth inning and actually had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the seventh, but unfortunately we didn't get the job done."
After Tkach struck out the side looking in the top of the first, Marquette grabbed the lead in the bottom of the frame.
With one out, Tkach singled to right and went to second after Allie Snook singled to center. Aubrey McCallum then put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Tkach and Snook into prime scoring position. McConnaughhay blasted a two-run double to deep left as the Lady Crusaders went up 2-0 after one.
Tkach then retired the next seven batters she faced with four more strikeouts before Streator finally reached base on a harmless Marquette error before Tkach ended the top half of the fourth with another whiff. In the bottom of the frame, McConnaughhay doubled to lead off and scored after Mallory Martini reached on an error. Two outs later, Abbey Owens plated Martini with a two-run homer to dead centerfield that made the score 5-0 after four frames.
"I thought it was a pop-up to center even though right off the bat it felt so good," Abbey Owens said. "I started rounding second and saw everyone's hands go up and I thought, 'Oh man, I guess I can slow down.' "
After Tkach struck out the side again in the fifth, the Lady Bulldogs finally got to her in the sixth. Tessa McClellan led off with a walk and scored after Magana registered the first hit off Tkach with a single to left which was misplayed for a two-base error. Anna Yanek then singled home courtesy runner Kathleen Davis before plating on Chloe Castillo's RBI double, cutting the Streator deficit to 5-3.
Tkach got the first two batters on strikes in the top of the seventh before Alivia Adkins doubled to left and the Lady Bulldogs had the tying run at the dish. Tkach, though, ended the game with another backward 'K' to conclude her fine outing.
Marquette 5, Streator 3
STREATOR (3) — Magana p 3-0-1-0, Davis cr 0-1-0-0, Yanek rf 3-1-1-1, Aukland lf 2-0-0-0, Castillo 3b 3-0-1-1, Barichello c 2-0-0-0, Gubbels cr 0-0-0-0, Durden cf 3-0-0-0, Schmitz 1b 3-0-0-0, Adkins ss 3-0-1-0, McClellan 2-1-0-0. Totals 24-3-4-2.
MARQUETTE (5) — E. Owens c 3-0-2-0, Tkach p 3-1-1-0, Snook 1b 3-1-1-0, McCallum lf 2-0-0-0, McConnaughhay 3b 3-1-2-2, Martini 2b 3-1-0-0, Wheatland ss 3-0-0-0, Cowie dp 1-0-0-0, Thomas cf 1-0-0-0, A. Owens rf 2-1-1-2. Totals 24-5-7-4.
Streator (0-2) 000 003 0 — 3 4 1
Marquette (2-2) 200 500 x — 5 7 2
LOB — Streator 3; Marquette 2. 2B — E. Owens 2, McConnaughhay 2, Castillo, Adkins. HR — A. Owens. SB — Martini. CS — E. Owens. SAC — Aukland, McCallum.
Streator ip r er h bb k
Magana (L, 0-1) 6.0 5 2 7 0 5
Tkach (W, 2-2) 7.0 3 1 4 2 15