MORRIS — Through the first four innings Wednesday, both the Morris and Kaneland softball teams had plenty of runners on base, but none of them scored.
That changed in the top of the fifth, when Kaneland (5-2, 2-0) broke the scoreless tie with four runs en route to a 9-2 Northern Illinois Big 12 win over the Redskins (8-6, 0-2).
Kaneland had runners on second and third with one out in the top of the first, but Morris pitcher Gigi Corban induced a grounder to first and a strikeout to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the second, Morris put runners on second and third, as Olivia Schultz led off with a walk and went to second on a single by Abbey Moore. An out later, a fly to right by Megan Gerischer moved the runners to second and third, but Kaneland pitcher McKenna Ryan struck out the next hitter to end the inning.
"We had some chances early," Morris coach Jen Bamonte said. "If we could have gotten the big hit and scored a couple of runs, maybe the momentum goes our way and the game is different. But, give credit to Kaneland. They got the hits when they needed to and capitalized on some of the mistakes we made."
In the top of the fifth, Ryan led off with a single. After a popout, Rose Roach singled, bringing up Donatella Semmosi, who had already doubled and tripled. Semmosi slammed the first pitch the opposite way, one-hopping the left-field fence for a double and scoring courtesy runner Kaitlyn Kurzrock with the first run of the game. After a walk to Hailey Roach loaded the bases, Hannah Theobald singled through the middle to score Rose Roach and Semmosi for a 3-0 Kaneland lead. The next batter, Liv Ortegal, grounded to short, but the throw to get Hailey Roach at third got away and she scored the fourth run of the inning.
The Knights kept the bats going in the top of the sixth. With one out, Rose Roach tripled and Semmosi was intentionally walked. Semmosi stole second, and Rose Roach was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to first. Theobald followed with a three-run homer to left-center to put Kaneland ahead, 7-0.
Morris answered in its half of the sixth. Kennedy Dransfeldt led off with a walk and came around to score on a triple to right by Claire Gugerty. Gugerty then scored on a single to center by Ashley Phelps.
Phelps and Moore each had two hits for the Redskins, with Moore slugging a double in the bottom of the seventh.
Kaneland added two more in the top of the seventh, when Hailey Roach was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Theobald followed with a bases-loaded walk to give her six RBIs on the day.
"We left too many runners in scoring position, which has kind of been our theme lately," Bamonte said. "We have also not been communicating real well in the field and giving up some easy bases. We are still pretty young as far as varsity experience, and we will learn from our mistakes.
"I see a lot of positives. Abbey Moore and Claire Gugerty are really hitting well. They are just going up there relaxed and letting their natural ability work for them. I feel like we are going to get everything to click and then we will be off and running. There is still a lot of season left."