The three things every softball coach hopes for every game -- good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting -- were all clicking for Bartlett Tuesday afternoon.
Senior Holly Pagan fired a 3-hitter, the Hawks played an errorless game, and they used timely home run hitting to defeat Elgin 6-1 in an Upstate Eight Conference game played on a deceptively sunny but windy and chilly day in Bartlett.
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"Good quality game," said Hawks' coach Jim Wolfsmith. "Holly pitched an efficient game with a lot of strikes and a lot of getting ahead of hitters, we played solid defense and we had a real good approach at the plate with a lot of long fly balls and line drives."
With the strong wind changing between blowing straight in at some points and left to right at others, Elgin senior Jennah Perryman launched a deep home run to center field as the third batter of the game. But from that point, Pagan was virtually untouchable. She struck out 10, walked 2 and allowed the Maroons (8-6, 4-1) just an infield single by Anna Eckholm and a seventh-inning double by Kelly Bremer as the Hawks (11-4, 5-2) snapped Elgin's seven-game winning streak.
"I know (Perryman) so when she (hit the home run) it was like 'no more, ' " said Pagan. "It kind of made me mad."
It didn't take long for the Hawks to tie the game and then take the lead for good. Bartlett leadoff hitter Katie Fornoff greeted Elgin sophomore Jessica Rago by hitting a 1-1 pitch to the same vicinity as Perryman's homer landed. Two batters later, senior Alex Morales did the same thing and Bartlett had a 2-1 lead, all three runs coming via the home run on a day when one would have thought the round-tripper wouldn't be part of the equation.
"I was a little surprised so many balls got out of here today," Wolfsmith said. "And the way the ball jumped off the bats."
Sophomore Alyssa Nowak (3-for-3) led off the second for Bartlett with a single and scored on an error to make it a 3-1 game and the Hawks extended it to 4-1 in the third when Pagan led off with a single and Nowak followed with a wind-aided double that scored courtesy runner Lauren Janczak.
Nowak completed the scoring in the fifth with a booming 2-run shot to center that brought home Morales, who had reached on an error, ahead of her.
The rest was left to Pagan and the Bartlett defense, which worked out of a jam in the sixth that could have been trouble. Madison Latham led off with a walk and with one out Eckholm beat out a dribbler down the third-base line. But with Sabrina Stockman up and Perryman in the on-deck circle, Bartlett senior catcher Dana Paul fired to second and got Latham in a rundown for the second out. Pagan then got Stockman to ground out to end the inning.
"Dana Paul's pickoff with Jennah on deck was huge," Wolfsmith said. "Jennah comes up there, and it could be a 6-4 game."
Rago pitched a quality game for the Maroons, striking out 4 and walking 1. She allowed 10 hits and 4 earned runs.
"I have no problem with the way (Rago) pitched," said Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales. "She did a nice job. Not to take anything away from them but I thought two of the home runs were windblown. It seemed like the wind was blowing out for them and in for us.
"We had a couple hiccups today we haven't had the last couple of games but the biggest issue was us getting the bat on the ball more. But our confidence will come back. I'm not worried about that."