ROCHELLE — MeLisa Young and her senior teammates on the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity softball team wanted at least one more win on their home field. The girls had their chance to come through during Monday’s Interstate 8 Conference matchup against Sandwich.
Junior Addie Friestad homered and scored two runs for the Lady Hubs, who played strong defense and delivered a timely late-inning hit to defeat the Indians 2-1 on Senior Night. The victory allowed Rochelle (3-9, 2-7 Interstate 8) to split the home-and-home set with Sandwich.
“We wanted to come out and give our best effort because we wanted to win on Senior Night,” Young said. “It’s one of the last times we’ll ever play here and we want to go out with a bang. I think we’re improving with each game and even though we had a shaky start to the season, I think our hitting has gotten stronger and our defense has improved a lot. We have to continue to be strong in the field and have good at-bats. I think those two things will take us really far.”
Junior Morgan Smardo shined in the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Hubs, throwing a complete game with seven strikeouts and holding Sandwich to two hits. Friestad’s home run in the bottom of the third inning gave Rochelle a 1-0 lead in the game, but the Indians responded when Breanna Sexton belted a solo shot of her own to lead off the top of the fourth inning and tie the score.
Looking for the go-ahead run, Rochelle opened the bottom of the fifth inning with a base hit from Friestad, who lifted a single into shallow right field to open the frame. After Friestad advanced on a passed ball, junior Layla Pelan stepped in and slapped a hard grounder through the third-base slide, allowing Friestad to score and put the Lady Hubs ahead 2-1. Senior Lauren Jackson and sophomore Ella Alfano each singled as well, but Rochelle couldn’t add more runs.
Smardo settled in over the final two innings, totaling three strikeouts and allowing only one Sandwich runner on base. Rochelle celebrated seven seniors prior to the game including manager Megan Thompson, MeLisa Young, Jordin Dickey, Ashley Knight, Regan Underwood, Lauren Jackson and Leslie Rodriguez.
“We’ve been struggling this year, but I felt like we really came together today,” Knight said. “Our fielding was good and our hitting has been a lot better. We have more games to play, but it’s a good feeling to win on Senior Night. It’s a big confidence booster for us, especially with the regional coming up, but it feels good to know that we can win and we’re capable of winning. The seniors are doing our best to put in the work and be role models for the younger girls.”
The Rochelle Lady Hub varsity softball team took on Oregon in a nonconference matchup Friday evening, falling 12-1 with the game stopping after four innings due to rain. Senior MeLisa Young tripled to lead the Rochelle offense in the loss.