Softball: Morris holds off late rally from Lady Hubs

Four-run seventh inning not enough as Rochelle falls 10-8

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ROCHELLE — A series of timely extra-base hits nearly brought the Lady Hub varsity softball team back from an eight-run deficit on Wednesday, when Rochelle attempted to avenge an early-season loss against the Morris Redskins in Interstate 8 Conference action.

Despite conceding eight runs over the first two innings, Rochelle found new life in the bottom of the seventh inning, with senior Bella Lodico and sophomore Morgan Smardo each delivering two-out, two-run doubles to bring the Lady Hubs within two runs of tying the game. But a pitching change helped seal the deal for the Redskins, who held off the Lady Hubs 10-8 and dropped Rochelle to 5-6 on the season. The Lady Hubs face Kaneland on the road next Monday.

“I was so proud of how our girls battled back,” head coach Lindsay Suess said. “They never gave up and we continued to hit the ball. Bella came in and pitched a very good game in relief.”

With her team trailing 6-0 in the top of the third inning, Lodico took over on the pitcher’s mound for Smardo, limiting the damage before tossing shutout frames across the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. Down 8-0, Rochelle broke its scoreless drought in the bottom of the fourth inning, where junior Ashley Knight scored on a passed ball and an RBI groundout from Smardo plated senior Kendal Ansteth, who singled earlier in the frame to jump-start the offense.

The Lady Hubs added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, with Ansteth sending a two-run single into right-center field to make it an 8-4 game. After Morris tallied two runs on five singles in the top of the sixth inning, Rochelle rallied for four runs in the bottom half. Sophomore Addie Friestad reached on a fielder’s choice before Knight and Ansteth drew walks to load the bases for Lodico, who drove in two runners with her double to left-center field.

Smardo then drilled a two-run double to right-center that scored two more runs, bringing freshman Ella Alfano to the plate as the tying run. But a three-pitch strikeout ended the game.

“We encourage our girls to talk to each other about what they’re seeing at the plate and not to be fooled by the same pitch they may have been fooled on the last time around,” Suess said. “They did a great job of making the right adjustments. We need to be sure we’re ready to play on defense and we can’t let them score eight runs over the first two innings of the game.”