BELVIDERE -- Several times Burlington Central had the baserunner and the Rockets were just waiting for that one big hit to score.
It never came.
Despite outhitting Marengo 8-4 and having more baserunners, Central could not manage a run in its 3-0 loss in a semifinal of the Class 3A Belvidere North softball sectional Saturday.
"We came out wanting to win not only a sectional but to beat Marengo," said Rockets' senior first baseman Emily Bell, who went 3-for-4. "If the hits came more timely or in a better bunch, it could have been a different outcome."
Central (28-9) had bases loaded with one out in the fifth and looked almost certain to cut into the Indians' 2-0 lead. Lauren King singled to open the inning and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Rebecca Roscher.
Leadoff hitter Courtni Neubauer walked and then Bell, who will play at North Dakota next year, singled to juice the bases. Defending state champion Marengo (33-5) was able to hold off the Rockets when Bekah Harnish's infield hit found its was to catcher Taylor Carlson, who got King on a force out. Brooke Gaylord popped out to end the inning.
"Our game plan was perfect," Rockets' coach Cray Allen said. "To hold Marengo to three runs was good, and we gave them two of them. We had scouted them and thought that they'd come inside on us. They committed to that inside pitch."
Marengo, which beat BC three times this season, was also committed to aggressive base running. Indians leadoff hitter Reed Karsten smacked a long shot to deep center field, a fielding error combined with Karsten's constant running allowed her to score on the play and give Marengo a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning.
Karsten had also scored in the bottom of the first when she Stephanie Cartwright's infield hit gave her enough of an opening to score.
Bethany Hart scored the insurance run when she came home from first on a combination of Carlson's single and a second Rocket error.
"Speed kills," Allen said. "As a softball coach you want athletes on your team. You can do a lot on a softball team with speed."
The speed and errors took away from an overall solid pitching effort from Central freshman Angie Morrow (12-5). The Indians managed just 4 scattered hits, while striking out 8 times. Until the sixth inning, Marengo had not had more than a hit in a single inning and the Indians did not record an extra-base hit in the game.
Central was able to get 4 multiple-hit innings off Indians starter Lindsay Melson (23-5). Three different times, Central recorded consecutive hits, but Central was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"They're a good hitting team and have not been shut out all year," Marengo coach Dwain Nance said. "When Karsten gets on base, she's going to wreak havoc. Our offense goes how she goes."