ROCHELLE — An ordinary play led to some extraordinary results during the early phases of the Rochelle varsity softball team’s nonconference home game against Boylan Catholic on Wednesday.
After junior Hannah Luxton reached base on a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the first inning, senior Mandi Lamb put down a bunt that rolled about 5 feet from home plate. But two throwing errors, at first and third base, by the Titans allowed Luxton to score and Lamb to run all the way around the bases and cross home plate as well, giving Rochelle a 2-0 lead.
“The funny thing was that we were talking about inside-the-park home runs before we started hitting today,” head coach Lindsay Suess said. “That play showed how we can utilize bunts with the top of our order because those girls have a lot of speed.”
The Lady Hubs scored two runs in each of the first three innings, but Rochelle was unable to secure the win, falling by a score of 9-7 after Boylan Catholic took the lead on a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning. Rochelle dropped to 0-4 with the loss.
“We told the girls to have confidence in themselves and go after strikes,” Suess said. “We knew we could hit the ball hard and I thought we did that today.”
The back-and-forth game saw the Titans respond to their infield gaffes early on with three runs in the top of the second inning to go ahead of Rochelle 3-2. Luxton and Lamb put two more runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second, however, with Luxton smashing an RBI double to center and Lamb hitting an RBI single up the middle.
Boylan Catholic tied the game 4-4 with one run in the top of the third inning, but Rochelle regained control after sophomore Bella Lodico crushed an RBI double and junior Maggie Williams followed with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. The Lady Hubs had their lead cut to 6-5 in the top of the fourth inning, but Lodico retired three straight Boylan Catholic batters with the bases loaded to keep Rochelle ahead of the Titans.
With no runners on base, senior Macy Luxton launched a towering blast to left-center field, hitting the scoreboard on a fly for a solo home run that put the Lady Hubs up 7-5 in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was the first homer of the season for the Rochelle team.
“It was nice to see Macy step up since she’s been hitting the ball really well,” Suess said. “Seeing her have success has been really nice.”
The Titans refused to back down, scoring twice in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game again at 7-7. Both teams went down without scoring any runs over the next three frames until Boylan Catholic took the lead with its two-run homer in the seventh. The Lady Hubs went down in order during the bottom of the seventh, unable to score over the last three innings off Boylan Catholic pitcher Hannah Nelson.
“[Hannah] threw the ball hard and she was throwing up which is a bit harder to stay away from,” Suess said. “We have to make those adjustments during the game. Our message after the game was to keep fighting and not let those last three innings affect us. We didn’t put any runs up and we made some errors in the field. We can’t let everything go at the same time.”