'Seven innings of good play' : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|'Seven innings of good play'|
|Prentice pitches nearly five hitless innings as Oswego softball shuts out rival Wolves|
|by Laura M. Medina|
Considering the way each team's sophomore starter was throwing, Tuesday's Southwest Prairie Conference matchup between Oswego and Oswego East could have gone either way.
Both right-handers tossed impressive efforts, but when all was said and done, it was the Panthers that emerged victorious behind Stephanie Prentice, who out-dueled Alex Wagner in a 5-0 win over the host Wolves. These rival squads meet again at Oswego on May 3.
It was just the second victory in five games for Oswego (4-5, 1-2), as well as its in first SPC play following losses to Minooka (7-3 on April 3) and Plainfield North (14-1 on April 5) last week.
"I thought we did a great job," Panthers head coach John Carlson said. "It's a rivalry game, so they're up for it, and once we started putting a couple runs on, they got even more excited. We got a couple of back-to-back hits, or we got a walk with a hit, and we did this all game.
"It was nice to see seven innings of good play for us."
Meanwhile, it was the second straight loss, and the third in its last four overall for Oswego East (6-6, 1-2), which was shut out 7-0 by Naperville Central in non-conference play on Monday.
"It's one of those days where our bats weren't alive, but I give credit to (Prentice) - I thought she did a really good job of throwing strikes, making good pitches," Wolves assistant coach Patrick Molinari said. "Our hitters had to fight it off, foul it off or whatever the case may be. ... Our approach at the plate wasn't that great."
Prentice, who pitched a perfect game against Oswego East last year while on the freshman team, had a no-hitter going in the first 4 2/3 innings before surrendering a single down the left-field line to her counterpart Wagner. She also gave up sophomore catcher Gretchen Gardner's single to left-center with two outs in the seventh.
"I just try and throw strikes...force ground outs and pop outs," Prentice said. "The defense is pretty solid. I'm not a dominant pitcher, so when I got it on the ground, they were making outs for me."
In all, Prentice allowed just four base-runners on the day. She hit one batter but struck out three in the one-hour, 20-minute effort.
"She did a great job, she hit her spots, she threw some change ups out there, and we played great 'D,'" Carlson said. "They picked it up behind her."
As for Wagner, she was faced with a jam early in the game, as an error allowed junior left fielder Ashley Blocker to reach base to lead-off the game. Two batters later, she tagged up at third and scored on junior designated hitter Jessica Clark's fly-out to left.
"We usually take a long time to warm up and start hitting in the fourth, but we came out and hit right away; that's probably what helped us," Prentice said.
Wagner ran into trouble again in the third, conceding a double to left to sophomore Brooke Riess, who came around to score on an infield error in the next at-bat.
Junior first baseman Jessa Garcia walked as the inning continued and was followed on the base paths by sophomore catcher Kelsea Baker's bunt. Both came around to score two hitters later, making it a 4-0 game on another infield miscue that also allowed freshman third baseman Jessica Lofthouse to reach base.
"In a game like this where you're playing your rivalry, the intensity is very high, and everybody tries to do much," Molinari said. "I tried to remind the girls that this is just a game...and to do their best. Obviously, it didn't work out the way we wanted it to.
"I think this is our first really bad defensive game, where Oswego made every play, and we just didn't make the plays we needed to."
But Wagner settled down and allowed just one hit the rest of the way. The only blemish in that span was the sixth-inning run scored by Lofthouse, who reached base on an error and scored on a defensive mistake two batters later.
Wagner walked three and fanned two in going the distance.
"We're a young team, and we know we have to take every base that we can, whether they earn it or they give it to us," Carlson said. "They gave us a few, but I really felt that we hit some balls when we needed to, and we put runs out there.
"That's the bottom line - we put up a few more runs than the other team."
Though Oswego out-scored Oswego East on the scoreboard, errors ended up being the difference for the teams, as the Wolves committed seven in the defeat.
"Our third baseman bobbled a few, our shortstop had some errors, our catcher dropped a few balls she normally catches, our second baseman didn't make a few plays - but they only hit (two balls) to the outfield," Molinari said. "We just didn't make the plays behind (Wagner) to keep it close enough. It's just one of those days where we have to put the work in and figure it out."
While Oswego East had a tough outing on Tuesday, it won't have much time to dwell on the loss, as it returned to the diamond on Wednesday at West Chicago.
Results were not available at press time, but the team, which is in the midst of six games in a six-day stretch, plays again today, Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. against Plainfield North at home before hosting a doubleheader against DeKalb - a member of the Interstate Eight Conference - on Saturday.
"I always try to emphasize to our girls that tomorrow is a new day," Molinari said. "We always play for the next day, and whatever happened the day before - whether we win or lose - in the game of softball, you can't be too high on the wins or too low on the losses. I want them to make sure they come out the next game and do the best they can."
Oswego, meanwhile, played the second of its own six-game stretch against Lemont on Wednesday, but results were unavailable at press time. It hosts Romeoville in an SPC matchup today, Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. before heading out to West Aurora for the Fox Valley Tournament, which runs through Saturday.
Notes: Oswego lost a 14-1 game to Plainfield North last Thursday in five innings. The Tigers turned a 1-0 first-inning lead into an 8-0 lead in the top of the second. Oswego scored its lone run in the bottom of the third, and Plainfield North scored four more in the top of the fourth.
Plainfield North scored 14 runs on 12 hits while Oswego scattered eight hits but committed five errors in the loss. Junior Ashley Blocker hit 2-for-2, junior Jess Clark batted 2-for-3 and Brooke Riess hit 2-for-2 and scored the run for Oswego. Senior Brandi Riess doubled and freshman Kirsty Tracy had an RBI hit.
Oswego was scheduled to visit Lemont on Wednesday, but results were unavailable at press time. The Panthers host Romeoville today, Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. before entering the two-day Fox Valley Tournament hosted by West Aurora at the Stuart Sports Complex.
Oswego will face West Aurora on Friday at 4:30 p.m. before playing Metea Valley at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, play begins at 3 p.m. and Oswego's opponent will be determined after the opening two games on Friday.