JOLIET — Over at the home field of the Joliet Central Steelmen softball team, the right field wall is a large concrete barrier upon which railway tracks belonging to Metra rest. On Monday afternoon, Central first baseman Rosa Gonzales gave one a ride to that particular zone in a 3-1 win by the Steelmen.
Gonzales swung at the first pitch she saw against Morris pitcher Erica Gualandi and sent it over the wall to account for all the runs her team would need on the day. It came following a single and a walk.
"I knew that she had been throwing the first pitch for a strike and I was ready for that first pitch I saw," Gonzales said. "It was right down the middle."
The wind was blowing steadily straight in all game long, which made the smash to the tower in right-center field even more impressive. It even left the eventual landing point of the ball in doubt.
"I thought the centerfielder was going to catch it," Gonzales said. "I was happy to get one because I hadn't had one (a home run) for a while."
It was her first homer of the season, though the junior said that she also hit one on the tracks in both her freshman and sophomore years, too.
"I don't keep count of every one of them, but it does happen a couple of times a season," Joliet Central coach Erin Douglas said of home runs landing on the tracks. "Rosa's got such great strength, and that's the reason she's hitting fourth. She puts a lot behind every swing."
Gonzales also walked and singled in her other two at bats in the contest.
"Their No. 4 hitter is very good," Morris coach Jen Lowery acknowledged.
After the home run, the game was for the most part all over but the shouting. Morris had just two hits on the day — Leah Lines in the top of the fourth and Kellen Bernickus in the third — and the lone run came on a broken play.
In the fourth, Laney Torkelson reached on a walk and was sacrificed to second by Taya Torkelson. That's when Lines delivered her hit to put runners on first and third.
Lines stole second on the next pitch and Laney Torkelson took off for home when the catcher threw the ball. However, the Central shortstop cut the ball off and threw home to stop Torkelson in her tracks. Torkelson retreated to third, and actually made it back safely but then Lines was all the way to third by the time the play ended. Lines put on the breaks and went back to second where she was tagged out and Torkelson bolted for the plate yet again. Torkelson just barely slid around the tag at home for Morris' sole run.
"She (Laney) went on her own on that one," Lowery said. "I think she though the throw was going to go through. She's an aggressive baserunner."
In regards to watching her team get two-hit by freshman pitcher Hannah Gawenda, Lowery said that the Redskins batters are just not being patient at all at the plate right now.
"We definitely should have had more hits than that," she said. "We need to learn how to work the count more, and we tell them that, but then they go up and swing at the first pitch. That is a huge reason. We are not seeing enough pitches. We are not making opposing pitchers work at all when we do that."
It also made a freshman's day of work certainly much easier.
"Hannah's a freshman and she's been progressing this year," Douglas said. "She hits her spots and gives her team a lot of confidence because she''s so consistent."
Morris is now 5-11 on the season and Joliet Central is 9-9.