ROCHELLE — After striking out 15 batters against South Beloit on Thursday, Rochelle junior Morgan Smardo continued to find the zone Tuesday evening, when the Lady Hub varsity softball team hosted the Plano Reapers seeking its first Interstate 8 Conference victory of the season.
Smardo struck out 11 batters and held the Reapers hitless through the first four innings, finishing with a complete game as the Lady Hubs defeated Plano 7-2 to snap a four-game conference losing streak. Smardo, who limited the Reapers to three hits on Tuesday, helped her own cause with a double and a run to put Rochelle ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning.
“I felt like we played more as a team today,” Smardo said. “We all hit the ball well and we played as a team. I felt like I was hitting my spots better and I had a good rhythm with my catcher. I thought the start of our season was a bit rocky, but we’ve really started to bond and we’ve become much closer together. We’ve definitely been hitting better and finding the gaps.”
Rochelle (2-6, 1-4 Interstate 8) added its second run of the game in the bottom of the second inning, where senior Ashley Knight led off with a triple before scoring on junior Addie Friestad’s RBI single through the middle. Freshman Lauren Dyer and senior Jordin Dickey then connected on back-to-back singles in the bottom of the third inning, with Dyer scoring on senior MeLisa Young’s sacrifice fly and Dickey scoring on an error to give the Lady Hubs a 4-0 advantage.
“I’ve been working on my mechanics and I’ve been focusing on not dropping my hands or rolling my wrists,” Friestad said. “I’ve been a bit shaky at the plate lately, so I’ve been focusing on staying calm and not trying to do too much when I’m up there. It feels good to get this win today. We need to keep hitting the ball into the gaps because those are the hits that will win games.”
Sophomore Ella Alfano reached on an infield single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Francesca Williams entered as a courtesy runner, eventually scoring on two Plano errors to put the Lady Hubs ahead 5-0. Rochelle scored its final two runs of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, where Knight singled and came home on Friestad’s RBI double to right-center.
Another Reaper error allowed Friestad to score and give the Lady Hubs a 7-0 lead. Plano avoided the shutout with two runs on a triple and a groundout in the top of the sixth inning.
The Rochelle Lady Hub varsity softball team faced LaSalle-Peru on the road Monday, falling 14-1. Freshman Lauren Dyer and junior Morgan Smardo each recorded base hits, while Dyer added two strikeouts on the mound.