Softball: Waubonsie Valley's 7th-inning lead slips away
Morgan Robertson was of no mindset to wait for her pitch with the game on the line Friday.
"I was just trying to hit the first pitch I saw," said Robertson, Oswego East's junior first baseman and a Butler recruit. "I have a tendency to get myself in deep counts. I was trying to hit the first fastball that I saw."
Indeed she did, ripping a first-pitch fastball that ricocheted off the first-base bag with the bases loaded and none out in the bottom of the ninth. It scored Lauren Salerno with the game-winning run as Oswego East rallied with five runs in the bottom of the seventh and beat Waubonsie Valley 11-10 in a wild nine-inning affair.
Robertson, Oswego East's left-handed No. 3 hitter, nearly won the game in the seventh, turning on an offering that hooked foul instead of going for a walk-off three-run homer.
"That was very disappointing," Robertson said.
But she was hardly disappointed with Oswego East's sixth straight win, and a winning rally that started when No. 9 hitter Salerno and leadoff Megan Leonard reached on errors. Gracie Vlach reached on a bunt single to load the bases, setting the stage for Robertson's heroics.
"First-pitch fastball inside, I went with it," Robertson said. "That was awesome. Lauren getting on was what started it. It really started with the bottom of the order and carried over to the top."
Oswego East (6-1) trailed 10-5 going to the seventh, but tied it with five runs. With two outs and runners on second and third, Kailey Goetz went the other way with a tying two-run single to right field.
"Little hits like that is what wins games," said Goetz, who was 3-for-5 with two runs batted in. "I went up there, I knew there were people on, I was nervous but I knew what I had to do."
Waubonsie Valley (2-9), which dropped its ninth straight game, was its worst enemy against an Oswego East offense that has scored 79 runs in seven games. The Warriors committed five errors, two each in the seventh and ninth innings.
It spoiled a 15-hit Warriors' attack. Ellie Laub had two doubles and reached base three times, with a two-run double in the second inning for a 5-1 lead. Losing pitcher Hannah Laub reached base four times with an RBI single in the fifth that made it 10-5.
"We had a lot of mental errors out there today; we got to the seventh and the wheels fell off," Waubonsie coach Valerie Wood said. "We made a lot of mental errors, playing not to lose instead of to win. You can't give a team like that 4-5 errors in a game, and extra outs."
Indeed, Oswego East has shown an early knack for the dramatic. The Wolves on Monday scored five runs in the top of the seventh to beat Bolingbrook 14-13, and did it again four days later.
And did so with defense, too, left fielder Hannah King making a running snow-cone catch to strand the go-ahead runner at third in the eighth, and Vlach slickly turning a double play to end Waubonsie's half of the ninth.
"We never give up, that's the biggest thing," Goetz said.
Leonard is the catalyst to it all, and was again Friday, going 4-for-5 with four singles and reaching base five times. Her infield single in the seventh scored two runs, making it 10-7.
"That's why she's No. 1, at the top of the lineup for us," Oswego East coach Sarah Davies said. "She knows what she's doing and gets it done for us."
The Wolves are getting it done in unusual times.
Oswego East High School on April 22 went into an adaptive pause through May 1 with a dramatic increase in students required to quarantine. Athletic teams could only play home games this week, with Friday's softball game scheduled to be played at Waubonsie moved to Oswego East. Oswego East's players are being tested every other day, and will be through the rest of the season.
"Honestly with losing last year, and the uncertainty from day to day even, I think these girls are just taking advantage of every moment," Davies said. "Softball for some of these girls is their sanctuary."