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Just enough : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Just enough
Oswego East softball team hits four home runs, but Oswego stays ahead in 10-8 win

by Kristin Sharp


Area softball teams battled a cold, blustery day on May 14, but the bats were hot at the second Southwest Prairie Conference meeting between the Oswego and Oswego East softball teams.

The teams combined for 18 runs and 28 hits, but despite four home runs from four different Oswego East players, Oswego hung on for a 10-8 victory on its home field.

"They kept hitting every inning. It was nice to see that," Oswego head coach Denise McCance said. "We have good hitters. We didn't hit any home runs, but we put a lot of things together.

"I feel like they're all seeing the ball really well. They're really disciplined at the plate," she added. "A lot of our hits are with two strikes and we're protecting the plate well. They've been doing really well - everyone up and down the lineup."

Oswego East senior outfielder Jordyn Klingbeil led off the game with a home run over the left field fence for an early 1-0 Wolves' lead, but Oswego junior pitcher Taylor Foy settled into the game, striking out her next batter before a ground ball to second base and a pop up to center field ended the inning.

Oswego (12-12) got the run back - and then some - in the bottom of the first inning, taking a 3-1 lead over the Wolves.

Junior outfielder Diamond Owens led off with a triple to right field and scored on senior second baseman Brooke Riess' RBI hit. With Riess on third, junior Jessica Lofthouse hit to third base, and Oswego East's Tiffani Palmatier kept a close eye on Riess, holding the run from scoring while allowing Lofthouse to reach first safely.

With runners at first and third, with two outs on the scoreboard, junior center fielder Kirsty Tracy hit a two-run double to left field. Tracy was left stranded after an infield ground out.

Oswego East (9-18) saw freshman Shannon Gaul and senior Gretchen Gaertner lead off the second with a pair of singles, but both runners were left on base after solid defensive play by the Panthers. Tracy fielded Shannon Hale's hard single to center field, and although Gaertner was safe at second, the ensuing throw to third caught Gaul to end the inning.

Oswego added three more runs in the bottom of the second to stretch to a 6-1 lead. Foy and Owens singled with one out before Riess hit a two-run single to center field. Senior outfielder Abby Etheridge drove in Riess, and Oswego loaded the bases with two outs, but Oswego East junior pitcher Kaelan O'Reilly induced a ground ball to third base, which was cleanly fielded to first for out to end the inning and leave all three base runners stranded.

Oswego East and Oswego each left a single runner stranded in a scoreless third inning, and Oswego made an infield double play to get out of the top of the fourth without giving up a run.

Oswego tallied two more runs in the bottom half of the frame to take an 8-1 lead. Riess doubled to the outfield fence before Lofthouse hit an RBI double to drive in Riess, and Lofthouse scored on junior Savanna Brady's double to right field.

Oswego East senior pitcher Alex Wagner relieved O'Reilly with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, but three infield ground balls ended the inning and left Brady stranded at third.

Trailing by seven runs, Oswego East's offense ignited in the fifth. Wagner led off with a single to left field, and with two outs, senior Jessie Ippolito singled down the third base line to put runners at first and third for junior Rachel Vander Wagen. The Wolves' first baseman hit a three-run homer over the center field fence to cut the Wolves' deficit in half, 8-4.

"This was a tough one to swallow," Oswego East head coach Laura Nussle said. "Our defense needs to be solid all the time. But it was nice to see our hits. What matters is what's coming up and we have to keep playing ball that way."

Oswego scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Etheridge walked with two outs, and scored from first base when Riess hit a double to center field. Riess came home on Lofthouse's hit to left field, but was left stranded when Wagner recorded her first strikeout of the game.

O'Reilly opened the sixth inning with a solo home run over the left field fence for a 10-5 game, and the Wolves held Oswego scoreless in the bottom of the sixth.

Oswego senior Julianne Nation relived Foy on the mound to start the seventh inning. Etheridge made a catch in right field to record the first out of the inning but Oswego East added three runs in an attempt to rally from a five-run deficit.

Palmatier singled to the left field fence before Gaul knocked out a single to put two runners on base for Gaertner. The senior catcher hit a three-run home run for a 10-8 lead and one out on the scoreboard.

"Their spirits were fantastic and they never gave up. They're a great group like that. We had to make a pitching change and Alex came in and fought. I can't be disappointed by any means."

McCance went out to the mound for a meeting with Nation and her infield, and Nation proceeded to strikeout her next two batters to close the game.

"They're good hitters and we knew that," McCance said. "We were trying to pitch as much off-speed as we can and trying to throw them off because they're good hitters. The more they get into a groove, the more they're going to hit home runs. It's hard to hit a home run off a change-up, so I knew if I threw a change-up and they get a hit up the middle, that's ok. We're trying to get ahead in the count. (Julianne) did a good job. With the lead, I knew if we had to hit again we could score because we scored almost every inning. We did a good job scoring and we just went back to the game plan and stuck with it. We had some great defensive plays."

Oswego Notes: Last Thursday's game at Romeoville was postponed by wet field conditions, and moved to Monday, which forced a cancellation of a non-conference game against Rosary. On Monday, Oswego dispatched Romeoville with an 8-5 win.

On Tuesday, the Panthers traveled to Plainfield East and lost 8-3 to move to 8-5 in Southwest Prairie Conference play.

The Panthers will host Plainfield Central today, Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. on Senior Night to close the SPC season before entering the Joliet West Quad Invite on Saturday.

Oswego was also given the No. 13 seed in the Class 4A Oswego East Sectional, and will play in the Geneva Regional against No. 4 Naperville Central on May 28 at 4:30 p.m. in Geneva for the regional semifinal. No. 5 Waubonsie Valley will face No. 11 Geneva in the first regional semifinal on May 27. The regional final is set for May 31.

"We're right there. We finish with a hard tournament at Joliet West and play Marian Catholic and Huntley. All of those teams are good, so we really want to finish well," McCance said. "That's our gear-up for regionals, so we want to do well."

Oswego East Notes: Last Thursday's game at Plainfield North was postponed twice by wet field conditions, but the SPC teams met on Monday and the Tigers recorded a 4-2 victory. Vander Wagen hit two solo home runs.

On Tuesday, Oswego East hosted Plainfield South and fell behind 4-0, but scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game. The Cougars scored two runs in the top of the seventh for the eventual 6-4 win.

Oswego East is now 2-11 heading into the SPC finale today, Thursday, at home against Minooka at 4:30 p.m.

Oswego East will host Plano on Friday at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Wolves will end the regular season schedule with a doubleheader at Metea Valley at 10 a.m.

The Wolves received the No. 15 seed in the Class 4A Oswego East Sectional and were placed in the Downers Grove South Regional.

Oswego East will host No. 18 Plainfield North on Monday at 10 a.m., with the winner advancing to play No. 2 Downers Grove South on Tuesday in the regional semifinal. No. 7 Plainfield East and No. 10 West Aurora make up the second regional semifinal game, with the title game scheduled for May 31.

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