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Too little, too late for Redskins against the Pirates

MORRIS – After playing nearly an extra game Monday in a 13-inning win over Sycamore, you could forgive the Morris softball team if they were a little tired heading into Tuesday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover game with Ottawa.

The Redskins struggled with the bats in the early going, and had a sloppy inning defensively in the seventh that helped Ottawa score four runs for an 8-1 lead.

One thing is certain with this team, though. There is never a dull moment. Morris proved that by scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh to make the final 8-5.

“That seems to be the theme for us this year,” Morris coach Jen Lowery said. “We wait until the last minute. If we hit, we hit, I don’t care when. Still, it would be nice if we could get it going a little earlier once in a while.

“I am sure the girls were tired after last night’s game. That was a tense game, and it lasted 13 innings. But, this late in the season and heading into the postseason, we have to be able to be mentally tight and physically loose. Early in this game, especially at the plate, we seemed very physically tight.”

Ottawa got off to a 2-0 lead when Emily Nelson hit a two-run homer to center. An inning later, Taylor Marvin delivered an RBI single for the Pirates (13-10), making it 3-0. Ottawa went up 4-0 in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Nelson, but Morris countered with its first run in the bottom half. With one out, Lauren Severson reached on an error. Two wild pitches got her to third, and she scored on a grounder to first by Alex Cook.

In the seventh, Ottawa started the inning with two straight singles. After a pop-up to third, Morris committed errors on balls hit by the next two hitters. Before the inning was over, Ottawa held a seemingly safe 8-1 lead.

“Sometimes, relaxing is an issue for us,” Lowery said. “We need to realize that you can think too much sometimes. The girls need to just go out there and have fun doing what they love. They need to enjoy it. We can tell them to do it, but they have to do it.”

The Redskins (18-8) certainly enjoyed themselves in the bottom of the seventh. Abby Burns led off with a walk, and Taya Torkelson hit an inside-the-park home run to the right field corner to make it 8-3. After an out, Kellen Bernickus doubled to center, then Maddy Feeney tripled to score her and make it 8-4. A grounder to the pitcher by Kelly Kolotka scored Feeney to make it 8-5. Severson, who doubled in the first inning, then hit a pop-up between the mound and the plate. Three Pirates converged, but the wind played tricks with it and it dropped to the ground. Severson hustled to get to second, but the throw narrowly beat her, ending the game.

Morris, which visits Kaneland, managed just five hits, all for extra bases. Besides Severson’s double in the first and the three extra-base hits in the seventh, Emily Moore doubled in the fourth.

Laurel Harper went the distance for the Redskins, allowing nine hits and striking out four. She didn’t walk a batter.

“I was real happy with Laurel,” Lowery said. “She hit her spots. [Ottawa] put the ball in play and there were some big outs that we didn’t make. But she did a great job. It’s nice to know that we have an option to bring her in and she will hit her spots and not beat herself.”

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