Prep softball: Ellison Hallahan homers twice as Sycamore tops Rochelle, improves to 13-0

Sophomore left fielder goes 3 for 3, drives in 6 runs in 20-1 win over Rochelle

Sycamore's Ellison Hallahan trots home after her second home run of the game Monday, April 15, 2024, during their game against Rochelle at Rochelle High School.

ROCHELLE – Ellison Hallahan said her new approach at the plate can best be described as yes, yes, no.

Down 0-2 in the count with two outs after already hitting a home run in her first at-bat, Sycamore’s sophomore left fielder got another big yes.

Hallahan blasted two home runs and drove in six runs as Sycamore cruised past Rochelle 20-1 in a five-inning Interstate 8 Conference game Monday to stay undefeated.

“I just changed my approach yesterday,” Hallahan said. “I was having a few issues with stance and stuff. I think you just kind of have like a yes, yes, no approach – kind of swing at anything that’s there. That’s kind of what I do.”

Hallahan’s first homer came in the first inning. It looked like Rochelle was going to escape an early jam by allowing only one run on an RBI single by Bella Johnson, but Hallahan’s homer to right-center also plated Kaitlyn Williams and Riley Schuller for a 4-0 lead.

In the second inning, six straight Sycamore batters drove in a run, capped by Hallahan’s second blast of the game to put the Spartans (13-0, 3-0 Interstate 8) up 10-0. She fell behind 0-2 in the count, battled back and took the pitch to left field.

She ended up hitting a two-run double off the wall in the fifth inning and scored on a single by Addi Armstrong. She also drew an intentional walk in the third inning.

“Two outs? So what. Two strikes? So what,” Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter said. “She’s going to go for it. That kid is not going to get cheated on her swing. I think you saw that today. Three really nice hits from her today with the double off the wall. So she can swing it.”

She wasn’t the only Spartan swinging it well Monday. Eleven of the 12 players who had a plate appearance had a hit, and although Bella Jacobs didn’t have one, she drove in two runs.

Schuller had three hits for the Spartans, scoring three times and driving in two. Addie McLaughlin, Kairi Lantz and Ema Durst each had two of Sycamore’s 20 hits. Keera Trautvetter had a hit, an RBI and scored three times.

Addison Dierschow got the start for Sycamore, retiring all six batters she faced. Halalhan came on in relief, walking the first batter she faced and uncorking three wild pitches that brought Dylan Etes around to score. But she retired the next nine batters, including five on strikeouts.

Although Dierschow didn’t pitch much Monday, Carpenter said she has liked how Dierschow has pitched this year.

“She’s a three-year varsity player, and her role has expanded every year,” Carpenter said. “Last year she pitched in some big moments for us, and this is her opportunity to take that lead spot right now, and she’s rolling with it.”

The Spartans will take their perfect record into a Wednesday I-8 game at home against La Salle-Peru. They’re 3-0 in conference play this year, including a 5-1 win against Ottawa last week. They hadn’t beaten the Pirates since 2016, although the teams tied in 2019 in a game called because of darkness.

“We’ve had a lot of successful wins,” Hallahan said. “Even Ottawa, that’s a really big one. It was the first time we had beat them since 2016. So it’s been really exciting.”

Carpenter said the team is a fun and energetic one that she is proud of so far. But she also said they have some lofty goals that go beyond a 13-0 start.

“It’s a number,” Carpenter said. “There’s some good wins in there, and there’s a couple easier wins in there. That’s OK. That’s part of high school softball. I think they have some big aspirations and big goals, and there’s lots of season left. We’re trying to figure ourselves out and worry about us. We still have a lot of things we can be better at, that we’ll need to be able to do against really good teams if we want to be able to win.”

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