Pressure? What pressure?
Mallory Mecklenburg’s sharply hit ground ball single up the middle off Shannon Hohman capped South Elgin’s three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh Monday and lifted the Storm to a come-from-behind 6-5 win over visiting Waubonsie Valley.
“She’s a great pitcher. I tried to shake off any pressure and just wanted to get a hit,” Mecklenburg said of her third single of the game, adding she didn’t know what the pitch was.
“I was just looking inside middle and that’s where it was. I just look for location and try not to worry about what they’re throwing.There’s not much time to react.”
It was a clutch at-bat for the center fielder, who had recently asked coach Jason Schaal to move her to No. 2 in the lineup from the leadoff spot because she felt she was putting too much pressure on herself.
Two infield errors and an RBI double from Taylor Rees earlier in the inning helped boost the Storm to 13-6 overall and 8-1 in the Upstate Eight Valley. The decision saddled Hohman — who struck out 11, walked none and scattered eight hits — with a hard-luck loss.
The late rally also negated a two-run home run by Hohman that highlighted the Warriors’ three-run third and Megan Grannan’s two-run blast in the fifth that broke a 3-3 tie.
“That was a great at-bat (by Grannan),” Schaal said. “That was at least a 10-pitch at-bat and then she got one in her wheelhouse and she put a charge into it. We could have given up but we fought back.”
Amanda Minahan and Grannan had two hits each to lead the Warriors’ eight-hit attack off Rees, the starting South Elgin pitcher, and winning reliever Paige Allen (4-4).
“The difference (between the two) is velocity,” Schaal said. “I wanted to give them something different and Taylor had them off balance and got seven ground balls the first time through the order and nine ground balls from the 15 batters she faced but then they started hitting her.”
Waubonsie Valley coach Aly Kelley was struggling with the tough loss afterward.
“We’re trying to get them into it mentally to push runs across every inning. There’s just no sense of urgency to get things done,” she said.
“Every time we play them it comes down to the last inning. They’re gritty and they’re a tough team and they don’t give up. In that last inning, it sounded like the seventh game of the World Series over in their dugout.”
Schaal agreed the series always seems to be close.
“Last year we won here 2-1 and then lost there, 3-2 in 10 innings,” he said. “It always seems to be a great game.”