ROCHELLE — Emilee Dueringer stepped to the plate with an opportunity to win the game for the Lady Hubs when the Rochelle varsity softball team hosted the Plano Reapers on Wednesday.
Junior Hannah Luxton laced an infield single to the shortstop that scored senior Mandi Lamb and tied the game 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning. After the Reapers intentionally walked senior Maddi O’Rorke with two outs, Luxton advanced to third on a passed ball, setting the stage for Dueringer to walk the game off with a base hit.
Staring down Plano pitcher Brianna Lupa, who got ahead of Dueringer in the count with two strikes, the Kishwaukee College signee took an outside fastball toward the second-base side, with the ball sailing into the outfield as Luxton crossed home plate to seal Rochelle’s 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Reapers. The Lady Hubs improved to 5-22 and extended their winning streak to two games.
“There were a lot of things going through my mind when they intentionally walked Maddi,” Dueringer said. “I thought about what could happen if I got a good hit, and I was starting to worry after taking that second strike. I fought through it and I knew what I had to do.”
Plano took a one-run lead before Rochelle tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning when senior Macy Luxton reached on an error to score senior Becca Bunger. O’Rorke sent an RBI double to center that plated Hannah Luxton in the second inning.
The Reapers responded by taking their largest lead of the game in the third inning, scoring four runs on two singles and a passed ball to go ahead 5-2. Both teams went quiet through the middle of the game until O’Rorke crushed another ball to center, this time an RBI single that scored freshman Jordin Dickey and made it a 5-3 game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“My dad always tells me to keep my hands down at the plate,” O’Rorke said. “It helps me focus more on what I’m doing and it helps me focus on my fundamentals. This win really boosts my confidence, and our team morale definitely goes up when we’re having fun.”
Rochelle added another run when junior Maggie Williams scored on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the sixth inning. Williams was initially ruled out on the force play until the home-plate umpire ruled Plano catcher Leah Earwood didn’t have her foot on the plate. The Reapers extended their lead to 6-4 with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning.
Lamb walked to start Rochelle in the seventh inning before Dickey bombed a double to center that nearly cleared the fence. With two runners on base, Macy Luxton’s sacrifice fly to right field plated Lamb and cut the Plano lead to 6-5. Hannah Luxton’s RBI single and Dueringer’s walk-off single capped off Rochelle’s three-run rally in the seventh.
“We didn’t want to get in our heads because we had been doing that a lot throughout the beginning and the middle of the season,” Dueringer said. “We learned from those mistakes and we continued to fight through the game.”