MORRIS – The old saying “It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season” turned out to be the case Saturday.
After losing to the No. 2-seeded Ottawa softball team twice in the regular season, No. 3 Morris edged the Pirates 1-0 in the Class 3A Morris Regional championship.
“I told the girls before the game it’s tough to beat a team three times,” Morris coach Jennifer Biamonte said. “Today was just lights out from a pitching standpoint, which I figured it would be and we just got on the right side of the coin toss today.”
Morris looked like it was going to jump in the scoring column right off the bat in the top of the first inning as Addison Stacy picked up an infield single and ended up on third after a stolen base and a groundout from Ella Davis.
However, when Stacy attempted to score on a passed ball, Hailey Larsen got to the ball and tossed it to pitcher McKenzie Oslanzi, who tagged Stacy to end the inning with the score remaining 0-0.
Ottawa had opportunities in the bottom of the first as well with Ryleigh Stehl singling off the glove of Madigan Doss at third. Oslanzi then sent a rocket to left field for a single and after the double steal, the Pirates had runners at second and third with one out, but Davis got a lineout and a groundout to end the threat.
In the top of the second Morris wasted little time, as Kylee Claypool led off the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Grace Lines.
Two batters later, Maddy Shannon faced an 0-2 count with two outs when she delivered an RBI slap single to left field to put Morris ahead 1-0.
“I knew right off the bat it was going to fall,” Shannon said. “On an 0-2 count against an outstanding pitcher, I was able to get the run in, thankfully. I was pretty excited.”
In the bottom of the third, the Pirates were again threatening as Grace Carroll was hit by a pitch to lead off before advancing on a sacrifice bunt from Larson.
Oslanzi was intentionally walked, but Davis shut down the Pirates.
Morris continued to hit well in the fourth with Davis leading off with a bloop single, but was she thrown out at second by Larsen on a steal attempt.
Morris then got back-to-back singles by Lines and Kayla Jepson, but Oslanzi once again slammed the door.
Lily Nanouski led off the bottom of the fourth being hit by a pitch and Maura Condon walked before both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Makenna Chiaventone, but that was as far as they went as the Pirates remained scoreless.
The bend-but-don’t-break mentality continued as Morris picked up two more hits in the top of the fifth, but were unable to score. Neither did the Lady Pirates in the bottom of the fifth after another batter was hit by a pitch. Both teams went down in order in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates got a leadoff single from Chiaventone, who ended up on third after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout. But with the tying run lurking on third, Davis got a strikeout to end the game.
“I am so proud of this team having gone through everything off the field we have this year,” Ottawa coach Adam Lewis said. “I don’t know what the hit total was, but Morris got a timely hit in the second inning, and we had a lot of chances with runners on and just could not get that timely hit. We’re a better hitting team than what we showed today, but both pitchers were amazing.”
For the game, Stacy led Morris with two hits, while Shannon picked up the RBI. Davis got the win, striking out six.
For the Pirates, Stehl, Oslanzi and Chiaventone all had hits, while Oslanzi took the hard-luck pitching loss, striking out six.
Morris (23-14-1) advances to the Joliet Catholic Sectional, where it will take on Lemont at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Ottawa finishes 21-9.