MORRIS – Before Tuesday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 matchup with Class 3A No. 5-ranked Kaneland, the Morris softball team honored seniors Claire Gugerty and Olivia Schultz. The pair are the only two seniors on this year’s team, and both will move on to play college softball – Schultz at Heartland Community College and Gugerty at Cornell College in Iowa.
And, for the first two innings, the Redskins threatened to keep things tight against a team that had beaten them by the 10-run rule the previous time they played. The same thing had happened last week when Morris beat DeKalb, a team that had posted a 13-1 win over them just two weeks before.
That outcome wasn’t to be, however, as Kaneland took advantage of some fielding miscues and delivered timely hits to produce an 11-0 win.
Madigan Doss held the Knights scoreless through the first two innings, but Kaneland’s Rose Roach led off the top of the third with a sharp single to right that got past the right fielder, and Roach raced all the way to third. Donatella Sommesi then bunted, and the throw home was too late to get Roach, with Sommesi reaching first. Hailey Roach followed with a single, and an error on a bunt by Olivia Ortegel loaded the bases before Maddy Wheatley cleared them with a double for a 4-0 Kaneland lead.
“That’s the way it has gone this year, with our team being so young,” Morris coach Jen Bamonte said. “We make a mistake, but then we can’t get through it, and it kind of snowballs. That’s when you have innings like that one. Madigan Doss was lights out in the first couple of innings, but we didn’t help her out defensively. We need to support our pitcher better than we did today.”
Morris was able to manage just three hits off of Kaneland’s McKenna Ryan, but the Redskins (7-20, 2-10) had runners in scoring position in both the first and fifth innings. Kennedy Dransfeldt led off the bottom of the first by beating out a grounder to short for a hit and, one out later, went to second on a comebacker to the mound by Schultz. Gugerty then slammed a fly ball to deep center, but Wheatley tracked it down and caught it near the fence to end the inning.
“I thought Claire’s ball had a chance to get out when she hit it,” Bemonte said. “If that gets out or even over the center fielder’s head, we have a quick lead and maybe things are different. But, they made the plays all game. We hit quite a few balls hard, but we hit a lot of balls right at their players, and they made the plays they had to make.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Doss led off with a single up the middle and, an out later, went to third on an error on a ball hit by Taylor Nelson, with Nelson reaching second. Ryan then retired the next two Morris hitters without a run scoring.
Kaneland added a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and four in the seventh to provide the final score. The big blow was a two-run single in the seventh by Sommessi, who finished with three hits and three RBIs.
“It seems like little things, but once they go wrong, we are so young, we don’t know how to stop it yet,” Bamonte said. “To me, even though we lost, 11-0, we went the full seven innings, which we didn’t do last time against them. I am beginning to see glimpses of what we are going to be.
“Think about our two seniors. They were a part of a 20-win team early in their career, but they came into this year knowing it was going to be like this. But they are two of the best leaders a young team like this could have, and I am so proud of them. They are the type of girls that our younger girls can learn from, and I think they have.”
Gugerty had one of the hits against Ryan, as did Dransfeldt and Doss.