Some days you win by clubbing the ball around the yard, and some days you win by taking advantage of what the other team gives you.
Bartlett's softball team did the latter Wednesday.
The Hawks scored 6 unearned runs and got strong defense and solid pitching to beat South Elgin 7-3 in an Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division game at South Elgin.
Senior Jessica Kirby allowed the Storm just 3 hits in 5 innings to earn the win for Bartlett (12-5, 6-1), which will host Lake Park (5-2 UEC Valley) in a 4:30 p.m. game Thursday to benefit Autism research. Junior Amy Johnson pitched the final two innings.
"We capitalized on the mistakes (South Elgin) made and Jessica did a great job the first five innings, and then Amy came in a did a good job in relief," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. "We did a fair job of scoring when we needed to in a variety of ways."
Bartlett used South Elgin's first of 5 errors in the game to open the door for a 2-run third inning. Kayla Haberstich (2-for-3) drove in Cara Carrion, who reached on a throwing error of her sacrifice bunt, and Alex Morales drew a bases-loaded walk to score Rachel Odolski, who had also walked, to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
Bartlett made it 3-0 in the fourth when freshman call-up Alyssa Nowak hit her first varsity home run, a no-doubt-about-it shot over the left field fence. It was the Hawks' only earned run of the day.
Sam Helton's groundout scored Alyssa Buddle, who had reached on a fielder's choice and advanced on Bartlett's only error of the game in the bottom of the fourth, but Bartlett separated itself from the Storm (9-5, 5-1) with 4 unearned runs in the top of the fifth, a frame in which South Elgin made 4 errors, three of them on errant throws. Holly Pagan had an RBI single in the inning for the Hawks.
"One bad inning," said South Elgin coach Jason Schaal, whose team was playing for the first time since April 12. "When you give up one unearned run in our conference it's tough. You give up four and it's going to be a struggle. The layoff did not help us any, you could tell that."
Johnson came on for the Hawks in the sixth inning and even though she allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, she did get five of her six outs via the strikeout. Buddle tripled and scored on Cassidy Westlund's double in the sixth for South Elgin, then Westlund scored on a Helton single.
Paige Allen took the loss for South Elgin. Taylor Rees came on in relief in the fifth inning.
"We didn't give up and we hit better at the end of the game," said Schaal. We'll move on. I'm proud of the way Paige pitched and I'm proud of the way Taylor Rees pitched; she hasn't pitched since spring break. Those runs aren't on her. Our old nemesis, defense, let us down again."
And Bartlett, the defending Class 4A state runner-up, took advantage.
"The whole philosophy is play good defense and get good pitching," Wolfsmith said. "That's what gets you downstate."