OTTAWA – Sage Mardjetko attacked early and finished just like she started, by striking out the last batter she faced.
The Lemont sophomore tossed a no-hitter, fanning 11 straight at one point and 16 overall while also knocking in a run with a hit as the Indians blanked Washington, 8-0, in Monday’s Class 3A Ottawa Super-sectional.
The Indians (27-4), who lost in both the 2018 and 2019 supersectional round, advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1989. They will take on Ridgewood at 10 a.m. Thursday in Peoria.
“It was just attacking the batters and getting them early,” Mardjetko said. “This feels so great because it’s been so long since we’ve been to state so to win state would just be amazing.”
A three-run rally with two outs in the top of the second inning gave Mardjetko all the offense she would need, and she would contribute to the outburst.
The freshmen got it going, as Allison Pawlowicz walked and moved into scoring position on Raegan Duncan’s sacrifice bunt before trotting home on fellow freshman Avaree Taylor’s scorcher to the left-center field gap for a triple.
“When you hit a good pitch like that, you know when it goes off the bat,” the left-handed swinging Taylor said. “It was an outside pitch, and I’ve been working on that a lot with the coaches. It was super exciting. I’m happy for the team and that we won and that Sage pitched so well.”
Taylor came home on Mardjetko’s single, and senior Sarah Cliff came all the way around to score as the courtesy runner for Mardjetko on senior Kaylee Purgatorio’s triple to right-center field to make it 3-0.
“I hit a curveball and just knew I had to get it,” Purgatorio said. “On my first at bat I got under it and was lucky to get on so I had to hit the middle top of the ball and get on it and that’s what I did and it went. I was so proud of myself.”
It was far more than enough offense for Mardjetko, who struck out 13 of the next 14 batters she faced.
Opposing catcher Kendall McKinley hit a couple foul balls hard off of Mardjetko, but that was it. The Panthers (20-8) only put six balls into play, and none of them were hit hard.
Mardjetko didn’t allow a base runner until she couldn’t field pinch hitter Malone McKinley’s spinner back up the middle in the sixth. Mardjetko only issued one walk and that didn’t come until the bottom of the seventh after the Indians had increased their lead with a five-run inning in the top of the frame.
Sophomore Frankie Rita had a run-scoring double while Pawlowicz and Taylor added two-run doubles as the Indians broke the game open.
“Up and down the lineup our hitting is very good this year,” Taylor said. “It’s incredible how well our team is doing.”
And the Indians aren’t done yet.