Marengo ends Rosary's surprising run
Rosary was looking to upend another softball team in the Class 3A postseason Wednesday afternoon in Rochelle.
But Marengo senior Bethany Hart fanned 13 Royals, including the side in order twice, while walking none in the Indians' 6-1 victory over Rosary at the Rochelle sectional semifinal.
The Royals, coming off an improbable regional final championship win over 23-win Kaneland, had their season conclude at 13-19.
Marengo (29-9), also a second seed, advances to meet Sterling Saturday morning.
"(Marengo coach Dwain Nance) said we're one of the best 13-18 teams he has seen in the state," Rosary coach John Kazmeirczak said. "This wasn't one of our best-hitting games we've had in the last three, four weeks."
Rosary simply could not solve Hart, who dispatched the first 10 batters she faced.
The Royals' Emma Molenhouse, Cara Smoczynski and Sam Phelps had the Royals' first 3 hits — all in succession with one-out in the fourth inning — to score their lone run.
Smoczynski, also the Royals' starting pitcher, had the only other hit of the game for Rosary in the sixth inning.
"(Hart) definitely moved the ball," Smoczynski said. "I didn't think her speed was any faster than anything we have seen this season."
Phelps' single the opposite way scored freshman Molenhouse to cut the Royals' deficit to 4-1.
"(Hart) kept pitching to the outside," Phelps said. "I moved closer and crowded the plate. I kept swinging and following through."
Unfortunately for Rosary, though, Marengo sophomore Veronica Ruelius had already done considerable damage in her first two plate appearances.
Ruelius' line drive to the right-center gap concluded the Indians' 3-run first by scoring a pair; the left-handed power hitter drilled an impressive hump-back liner over the left-center field fence for a two-out solo home run in the Indians' third.
"I like inside pitches," Ruelius said. "I was just trying to hit the ball (hard) somewhere. I thought the home run was going to hit the fence."
Rosary had two legitimate scoring opportunities the rest of the way, but Hart stranded Smoczynski and Phelps in scoring position in the fourth inning.
Hart left the same Rosary duo on the base paths in the Royals' sixth inning.
The Roosevelt University-bound right-hander left no doubt by fanning the side to end the game in her 4-hit, distance-going start.
Rosary began the postseason with 11 wins and survived the Kaneland 6-run seventh-inning to make their first sectional appearance in four years.
'Once we played Kaneland and found out how to beat them, I felt we could beat Marengo, too," Phelps said.
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