After an 11 day layoff, the United Township Panthers were finally able to finish off their Western Big 6 Conference softball sweep of Rock Island.|
ThePanthers took Game 1, 9-8 on Friday, April 5. Game 2 was tied at 4 through four innings when darkness forced asuspension. The first attempt at completing the game last Thursday was waved off due to wet conditions.
On Tuesday, after the long wait to finish it out, UT (3-2, 2-0 Big 6) didn't waste any time jumping ahead of the host Rocks (2-8, 0-4 Big 6) en route to winning the game 8-5
Courtney Markin reached on an error to lead off the fifth. Mackenzie Gustafson then singled before Hailey Lenth moved both runners on a groundout to the pitcher. Heather Johnson, who started the game in the circle for UT, drove home Gustafson and Markin.
Markin came up again in the sixth inning and hit her first home run of the season -- a two-run shot that brought home Natalie Brown.
"It's been a really slow year," Markin said. "It felt great. I'm not a power hitter by any means. It was just a nice surprise."
Johnson started the game for UT, but it was senior Brooke Prior who started the second round of the second game for the Panthers. Prior gave up one hit and one run with eight strikeouts in the final three innings. Johnson pitched four innings, giving up eight hits and four runs with three strikeouts.
"I felt pretty good," Prior said. "Eight strikeouts in three innings is pretty big. Knowing we had the cushion made it a little easier. It made me feel better knowing we were ahead."
Alonzo went to Prior on Tuesday, because of his senior leader's ability to start games well.
"We pitched her (Monday) and got her loose," Alonzo said. "This is just our fifth completed game and it's April. We're just trying to get reps. She typically starts games well, and that's the reason we made the flip-flop from Heather."
Rock Island's one hit on Tuesday was a big one. It came in the seventh inning when Morgan McCready hit a line-drive home run off Prior. It was the third for Rock Island in the game as Jasmine Ragusi and Hailey Feldhahn also homered to help forge the 4-4 tie before the suspension. Feldhahn was 2-for-4 in the game and Ragusi was 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
McCready also took over for Hannah Hart in the circle. Hart pitched the first four innings, giving up two earned runs (four total) on seven hits. McCready pitched all three frames, giving up four unearned runs on five hits as Rocky's defense committed two errors on Tuesday.
"We gave them four outs in the fifth and sixth," Rocky coach Steve Ebner said. "Until we turn it around, we're just going to keep struggling. We've got good players, right now we're just a little bit snake bit."
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