MORRIS — For a short time Saturday morning, the Morris softball team held a 2-1 win over visiting Streator in their annual StriKe Out Cancer game, and it looked like things would go well for the Redskins. Funds totaling in the $3,000 range were collected for pediatric cancer research and the home team was ahead.
The funds will still be donated. The home team, however, did not come out ahead.
Streator rallied for five runs in the top of the fourth inning to erase the Morris lead and cruised to a 7-2 win, as Bulldog pitcher Jada Hansen did not allow another run the rest of the way.
"We still aren't hitting consistently," Morris coach Jen Bamonte said. "We have hitters that are doing well, but we aren't putting it all together up and down the lineup in the same game. We had runners on quite often, but we needed to get that one big hit."
The Morris defense came through early on to keep Streator within striking distance. The Bulldogs began the game with three straight singles, the third hit by Jansen driving in Ellie Magana, who led off the game with a base hit. But, Morris pitcher Maddie Noon induced a popout to second, a force out to short and a fly out to center to get out of the inning.
Noon, a freshman, got Streator out in order in the top of the second and got more defensive help in the top of the third. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out before Anna Heckmeyer blooped what looked like a single into center. However, Morris' Jaelyn Wiers picked up the ball on one hop and fired it home, where catcher Claire Gugerty tagged out courtesy runner Hannah Gotch to cut down a run. Noon then got the next bater to ground to short to end the inning and strand three more Streator runners.
The Redskin seniors then stepped forward in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Olivia Schultz worked a walk to bring up Gugerty, who was playing in her first home game of the season. The veteran catcher slammed a 2-1 offering into right-center for a triple that plated Schultz. The throw to third got away from the third baseman and bounced out of play, allowing Gugerty to score for a 2-1 Morris lead.
"That was nice to see our seniors step up and do that," Bamonte said. "And, not only did Claire get that big hit for us, she did a great job behind the plate shutting down their running game. That's a big help for us when we have young pitchers and young players in the field."
Unfortunately, the young Redskins weren't able to hold the lead for long, as Streator took advantage of some miscues and scored five runs, only one of which was earned, in the top of the fourth to take control
Addison Price led off with a single and Anna Schmitz walked. Jaylen Blakemore hit a grounder to second, but the throw for the force out was dropped, loading the bases. Magana singled in Price to tie the game. After a short fly to center, Hansen reached on an error that brought home two more runs before Grace Schmidt singled in another run. Noon got two groundouts to escape the inning without further harm, but the damage was done.
"Overall, our defens was solid," Bamonte said. "We just had the one bad inning. But, that's how our season has gone. And, we are very young, and the girls are looking to each other for leadership out there. Sometimes, when we make a mistake, it turns the inning into a nightmare. There is sometimes lack of communication, and Streator was able to take advantage of that today.
"But, we are getting better with each game, and the girls will learn from all of this."
Besides the triple from Gugerty, the Redskins got a double from Jada Less and singles from Paige Thorson and Grace Lines.
"Paige is really starting to find her swing, and Jada does a nice job filling in when Kennedy Dransfeldt isn't here," Bamonte said. "But, we should be getting hits more consistently. We need to put the ball in play more instead of striking out when we need contact. Again, that is something that will come as we get more experience."