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posted: 5/12/2012 8:54 PM

Lisle wins tournament, overcomes Morrison

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It didn't matter to Melanie Early that this is not the same Morrison team that beat Lisle at state last year.

She still relished a small measure of revenge Saturday.

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"They broke my heart last year at state," Early said. "Winning this tournament felt good, but it meant even more to me to beat them."

Early and the No. 20 Lions beat Morrison 8-1, then defeated Immaculate Conception 5-0 in the championship game of the Lisle Invite at Community Park.

Lisle (26-3) has won 16 straight games and appears to be in peak form as the Class 2A playoffs start this week. Early (18-2) allowed just 3 hits in two games Saturday, Lisle committed just 1 error and at the plate eight Lions had hits.

Better yet, Lisle beat two teams that could present its biggest obstacles to a return to the state tournament.

"Usually we play IC during the regular season," Lisle coach Jen Pomatto said. "It was good to see them today. I feel like we're in a good place right now. I told the girls we need to take that momentum into the playoffs."

Morrison (23-9), which lost six starters off last year's 2A champions, led Lisle 1-0 until the Lions came alive with 4 runs in the fifth inning and 4 more in the sixth. Early doubled in the tying and go-ahead runs in the fifth and singled in two more in the sixth. Kelly Urban was 3-for-3 and reached base four times.

"We started hitting the ball hard (Friday) night," Pomatto said. "I know we only scored 2 runs, but we hit the ball hard. We have some people getting out of some funks. That's what we need."

Lisle jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after two innings on IC. Summer Stitt singled to lead off the first and came around to score on a wild pitch, and she singled in Shelby Kretman in the second. Kellie Brennan doubled in Mackenzie Buchelt in the first inning.

Meanwhile, Early was cruising. She retired the first 11 batters she faced until Katelyn Conenna's booming double in the fourth inning. Unfazed, Early set down the final 10 batters and struck out eight.

Lisle very well could see IC again in a sectional semifinal, but Pomatto didn't mind sending out her No. 1 against a potential playoff opponent.

"We're off Sunday and we're off Monday, so I can give her a little bit of a rest now, but I feel very confident with where Melanie is right now," Pomatto said. "We had a lot of games this week, but she's done really well. It seems like she's only got stronger as the week wore on."

IC coach Frank Reaber, on the other hand, held back No. 1 pitcher Jessica Conenna against Lisle. Reaber's Knights (26-7) set a program win record on Friday night, then held off a late rally to beat Rockridge 6-5 Saturday morning.

All and all, it was a productive weekend for the Knights.

"We wanted to come out of this weekend at least 2-1, and we did," Reaber said. "I think we did OK. They only had a couple clean hard hits and I didn't pitch my No. 1 for a reason. I'm not disappointed with the outcome."

Lisle, though, continues to be a tough nut for the Knights to crack. IC has been shut out in five straight games against the Lions dating back to the 2010 playoffs. IC did have one, possibly two deep balls that could have been homers with a fenced-in field; Lisle had to play on a side field with its usual one unplayable because of rain.

"We haven't seen pitching like this in a little while, but as the game wore on the girls were a little better against it," Reaber said. "Early's a really good pitcher, take nothing away from her. I look forward to hopefully playing them again in the sectional."

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