Burlington Central knew exactly what Marengo pitcher Lindsay Melson was going to do.
The Rockets just had a hard time reacting to Melson's up pitch.
Melson struck out 15 Rocket batters as the Indians took a 2-1 victory in the Big Northern East opener for both teams on Rocket Hill Tuesday.
"We knew what she was going to do. We worked on it," Rockets' coach Cray Allen said. "She throws the up pitch. We didn't get surprised."
Frustrated might be a better word.
On five different occasions Central (10-6, 0-1) had a runner on base with 2 outs. Four out of those five occasions ended with Melson (8-3) striking out a batter to end the inning.
In the opening two innings, Bekah Harnish and Lauren King smacked 2-out doubles. King's extra-base hit scored Angie Morrow, who reached base on an error, to cut the Marengo (11-3, 1-0) lead down to 2-1.
Then just as quickly as the Rockets had hopes of getting an early tie, Melson came back with strikeouts. She finished the game fanning four-straight batters. Central bounces right back and face the defending conference and Class 3A state champion Indians in Marengo on Thursday.
"When she gets ahead of you in the count, she'll come at you," said Rockets' Haley Albamonte. "She had a great riseball. We're going to practice that riseball a little bit and try to get it any way we can."
Morrow (4-2) finished with a solid effort in the circle for Central. The freshman hurler settled down after allowing a pair of runs in the first inning and held Marengo scoreless for the remainder of the contest, while striking out 6.
The Rockets' defensive effort can be credited all the way around, though. Leadoff hitter Reed Karsten gave the Indians a scoring chance when she had a leadoff triple that took a friendly bounce into left field. Abby Kissack grounded out without scoring Karsten setting up a sacrifice bunt attempt from Larissa Pfeiffer. The bunt took a defensive bounce allowing Rockets' catcher Sarah Kisch to throw out Karsten at third. Morrow caught Melson looking on a called-third strike to end the inning.
"Our fielding has come along way," said Albamonte, the Rockets' third baseman. "Coach Allen has put together an infield that works together."
Karsten led the game off with a single and them scored when Melson got a 1-out single. Melson scored on a wild pitch to give Marengo a 2-0 lead.
"That's a typical Marengo game -- score 2 runs and hold on," Indians' coach Dwain Nance said. "That's a great hitting team. I've been watching their scores and to hold them to one run is tough. Lindsay was hitting the spots."