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Taking a stand : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Taking a stand
Miller's three-run homer helps Panthers defeat Minooka, 5-3

by Kristin Sharp


Oswego junior softball pitcher Taylor Foy had played in just nine of the Panthers' 17 games, but she had a breakout game against Minooka on Tuesday.

Earning the start on the mound, Foy pitched a complete game and scattered five hits while the Oswego defense was solid behind her in committing just one error against the Class 4A defending state champions. Oswego held off a seventh-inning rally by Minooka to clinch a 5-3 victory in Southwest Prairie Conference play.

"Taylor couldn't pitch any better," Oswego head coach Denise McCance said. "I thought she kept them off-balance and kept them thinking. She threw nice change-ups and got ahead on the count. She did a really good job. For us, 5-0 going into the last inning, we're definitely going to have some confidence to shut them out in the last inning. They're a great team and we knew they were going to hit. It was just spreading them out. They executed the game plan and our defense was great."

Oswego has now won six of its last seven games to improve to 9-9 overall and 6-3 in Southwest Prairie Conference play. The win is breaks an eight-year drought against Minooka. Oswego's last victory over the Indians came in a 2-1 win on April 18, 2006.

The game opened in dramatic fashion for Oswego. After Minooka left one base runner stranded at second in the top of the first, Oswego senior right fielder Abby Etheridge singled with one out and advanced to third on senior second baseman Brooke Riess' double to the center field wall. Junior shortstop Jessica Lofthouse eyed a full count and walked to load the bases for junior center fielder Kirsty Tracy, who found an infield hole near shortstop to drive in Etheridge and Riess.

It didn't take long for Oswego to expand its 2-0 lead. With Lofthouse and Tracy on base, sophomore third baseman Ally Miller cleared the center field fence for a three-run homer and a 5-0 Oswego lead.

"I was actually just looking for a base hit to the right side to move the runners. She threw me an inside pitch and I attacked it," Miller said. "It's really good, especially since last time we were kind of dead. This helped us keep up the whole game, especially our defense and keeping our defense strong."

Oswego hit through its lineup, sending 10 batters to the plate before an infield grounder ended the inning and left Foy stranded at second after her single.

Minooka left two more runners stranded in the second when Foy made a line drive catch on the mound that spun her on her heels and ended the inning.

But the Indians had a new defensive strategy, relieving starting pitcher Carline Brown with Alyssa Hajduk to start the bottom of the second.

Hajduk was the winning pitcher in Minooka's 6-5 win over Oswego on April 10, and she was once again effective for the Indians on the mound. Hajduk struck out three batters in the second and one more in the third, keeping Oswego's bats silent until the sixth.

"We knew that (Hajduk) had a lot of rise balls because she pitched us last time and that was our downfall. We knew we had to stay off those rise balls," Miller said.

Oswego's only base runners after the first inning came on four walks, junior Alexa Becker reached on an infield error in the bottom of the sixth inning. Her hard-hit ball was bobbled at third base, and the throw popped up from the first-base bag to allow Becker plenty of time to reach base safely, but she was left stranded at second.

Minooka struggled to put runners in scoring position late throughout the game. Caty Bell hit a ball deep in center field, but Tracy had a solid throw to Lofthouse, who tagged Bell as she tried to stretch her hit out to a double and she was called out at second.

The Indians left two on base in the fifth after Lofthouse and Miller teamed up for a force out at third, and Tracy made the final out of the inning.

Minooka had another chance to move runners in the top of the sixth after a leadoff single down the third base line, but the next time Minooka put the ball into play, Riess fielded the ball, applied the tag as the baserunner approached second, and threw to first baseman Beth Figgins for the double play.

Oswego took its 5-0 lead into the top of the seventh, and Minooka made a strong attempt at a comeback victory. A leadoff single and a double to right field put two runners on base for Bell, who sent the ball into right field. Etheridge could only get the tip of her glove on the ball, and the play resulted in two runs for the Indians. After another single, Minooka had two outs and runners at first and second. Brown hit the ball into center field - and although Tracy appeared to have made the diving catch to end the game, the umpire ruled it hit the ground first and another run scored for Minooka for a 5-3 score. Foy pitched to her eighth batter of the inning and induced a ground ball to Riess, who made the easy out to Figgins at first to end the game.

"I was just going with the flow," Foy said. "We needed to keep going, and not let up (in the seventh). They're all backing me up. ... It's amazing; beating Minooka is an amazing feeling."

Notes: Oswego earned a 5-1 win over Sandwich as Etheridge hit 2-for-4 and Riess doubled. Lofthouse had two RBIs while senior Lauren Gerstung, Riess and Tracy also earned RBIs. Foy allowed no earned runs and did not allow a hit in the final two innings. Nation pitched five innings and scattered five hits.

Last Thursday, Oswego recorded a 6-4 win over Plainfield South. Oswego struck first, posting five runs in the bottom of the third inning, but the Cougars scored two in the fourth and one in the fifth for a 5-3 game heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Oswego scored one run in that half of the frame, and Plainfield South scored one in the top of the seventh.

Becker hit 3-for-3, junior Savanna Brady hit 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Lofthouse went 2-for-2 with three RBIs. Lofthouse and Brady both hit home runs, and Foy earned the win in a complete game.

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