Softball: Lady Hubs open regional play with upset over Dixon

Senior Becca Bunger drove in the deciding run when Rochelle defeated Dixon in the IHSA Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals on Monday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Lamb, Bunger step up as Rochelle tops Duchesses 2-1

DIXON — Lady Hub senior outfielder Mandi Lamb made the defensive play of the game when the tenth-seeded Rochelle varsity softball team faced the eighth-seeded Dixon Duchesses in the IHSA Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals on Monday.

Rochelle carried its 1-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning before Dixon singled twice to put one runner in scoring position. The Duchesses threatened to score on a single to right field soon after, but an outfield assist from Lamb to senior catcher Maddi O’Rorke cut down Dixon’s lead runner for the final out of the frame.

The defensive gem proved valuable for the Lady Hubs, who held on to defeat Dixon by a final score of 2-1 to reach the semifinal round. Rochelle will carry its season-best three-game winning streak into Rock Falls against the second-seeded Sycamore Spartans on Tuesday.

“I saw the ball rolling fast enough to where I knew I could probably grab it,” Lamb said. “I threw the ball as hard as I could and I knew if I got the ball over Emilee [Dueringer’s] head, it would go right to Maddi… I definitely think we were prepared for a tough game, and we knew their pitcher was going to be tough. We were ready to take it.”

O’Rorke and junior Hannah Luxton singled for Rochelle in the second inning, but the Lady Hubs were unable to score. Lamb reached on an error in the third inning, and the senior scored the game’s first run after freshman Jordin Dickey sent a ball into left field that bounced off the Dixon outfielder’s glove for an error.

O’Rorke took advantage of another Duchess error in the fourth inning, reaching base and advancing on a bunt single by Luxton. After sophomore Bella Lodico reached on an error, senior Becca Bunger stepped up and delivered a bases-loaded RBI single through the left side of the infield that gave the Lady Hubs a 2-0 advantage.

“I knew I needed to get the ball out of the infield so we could get at least one run in,” Bunger said. “There was only one out so I knew I could even sacrifice myself so we could score. I went up to the plate knowing what I needed to do… We know we’ve beaten Dixon before and I think that gives us more confidence, especially since we played them last week.”

Dixon avoided the shutout after scoring one run on two Rochelle errors in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Duchesses put three runners on bases over the final two innings, but the left-handed pitcher Lodico sealed the win with a strikeout for the final out in the seventh inning.  The Lady Hubs improved to 6-22 overall with the victory.

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