It's not very often a team starts a day with a lead in a game, but it worked to the advantage of Waubonsie Valley and sophomore ace Shannon Hohman.
Leading Bartlett 1-0 with one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the first inning when the rain-suspended game resumed on Saturday at Bartlett, Hohman and the Warriors got the final two outs of that inning. the right-hander settled into a groove, her team added 3 more runs and just like that there's another tie for the lead in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division softball race.
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Waubonsie's 4-0 win over the Hawks technically puts the Warriors in first with a 13-3 league record. Bartlett is 11-3, Lake Park 12-4, Neuqua Valley 11-5 and South Elgin 10-5 heading into what promises to be a riveting final week of the regular season.
"We've talked all season about bringing the energy and intensity every day," said Warriors' coach Aly Kelley. "Today we brought it."
Kelley was a bit concerned after her team met for an 8 a.m. pregame and then the game was pushed back from 10 a.m. to noon due to field conditions. But once Hohman got out of the first inning, Kelley knew things were OK.
"I was a little concerned about the delayed start," said Kelley, whose team hosts Bartlett on Tuesday. "We were playing a great team today that puts the ball in play and is very aggressive. But the girls did a great job of handling it."
None more so than Hohman, the first pitcher to shut out the Hawks this season. After getting a strikeout for the second out of the first, Alex Morales singled to right, Odolski going to third and then Morales taking second when the Warriors (19-5) failed to react. But Hohman got Holly Pagan to ground out hard to first and end the threat.
"That definitely helped, starting with a lead and one out," Hohman said. "You always have more confidence when you have the lead. It kind of took the wind out of their sails a little. This was a big win for us."
After the first inning, Hohman allowed just 1 hit, a bunt single to Odolski in the third. Bartlett (20-7) did leave 7 runners on base, 6 in scoring position. Hohman struck out 11, walked 3 and hit a batter. She retired the final 9 Bartlett hitters in a row.
"We had our chances," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith, whose team will play a makeup game at home Monday against South Elgin. "You can't not get one in when you have (six) runners in scoring position. You gotta get one to the green and we didn't do that against a good pitcher. Shannon pitched a great game and Waubonsie came in aggressive and ready to play."
The Warriors added to their lead in the third when Amanda Minahan beat out an infield single with one out and went to third on an infield single by Hohman, who was 3-for-4 and had an RBI double to drive in Minahan last week before the game was suspended. Hohman and Minahan then executed a first-and-third double steal to make it a 2-0 game.
Waubonsie added 2 unearned runs in the seventh. Layne Thresh and Minahan reached on fielder's choice plays and both scored when Bartlett made a 2-run error on Hohman's single to the outfield.
Pagan suffered the loss for Bartlett, allowing 10 hits with 1 strikeout and 2 walks.