OTTAWA – For the veteran Marquette softball team, Monday afternoon’s nonconference matchup against Princeton was essentially a “been there, done that” kind of ballgame, flashing the power and experience many of them have accumulated over the past few years on varsity.
For the young Tigers, it was more an “are there, hope to do that” situation.
The Crusaders collected a dozen hits – four of them home runs, including a solo shot and a grand slam by sophomore Taylor Cuchra – and got three-hit pitching from Kaylee Killelea and Lindsey Kaufmann for an 11-1, six-inning victory over Princeton at June Gross Field.
Leading 1-0, Killelea and Cuchra slugged back-to-back homers in the third inning before posting four runs in the fourth, all on Cuchra’s towering grand slam far over the left field fence.
Eva McCallum capped the barrage with a solo shot in the fifth and a game-ending two-run single in the home sixth to move the Cru to 3-1 on the season.
Killelea went the first five innings in the circle, giving up only two lightly struck infield hits and one walk while striking out seven before switching spots with center fielder Kaufmann. The latter was touched for one hit and an unearned run in the top of the sixth by the Tigers, who fall to 0-3.
“The girls hit well the second time through the order. They did a good job,” Marquette coach Brad Oakes said. “We have several girls up and down the lineup that can hit home runs, so that makes you feel good anytime you go out there, and we’ve been hitting pretty well the last couple of games. We do a lot of hitting in practice, and we’ve been outside a few times in the last week, so it’s not really a surprise that it’s coming around so quickly.
“Our pitching’s been doing well, too, Kaylee and Lindsey, so we’re pretty happy with how things are going all-around right now.”
Marquette got on the board in the first against PHS starter Reese Reviglio on a couple of errors and a couple of walks, the last one to Makayla Backos with the bases loaded.
In the third inning, Killelea got new life when her foul pop-up near the plate dropped, then lined the next pitch off the top of the fence in right-center for a homer. Cuchra then ripped another liner that just cleared the fence in left-center to make it 3-0 and chase Reviglio from the game.
Sylvie Rutledge came in to put out that fire, but an inning later she allowed a one-out single by Kealy Rick and two-out walks to Avery Durdan and Killelea to load the bases. Cuchra then clubbed her second homer of the game, a towering blow to the base of the permanent fence down the left-field line to make it 7-0 Cru.
Marquette wasn’t done, thanks to McCallum. Her homer leading off the fifth and her two-run single in the sixth, following singles by Cuchra and Backos, capped the win.
Killelea gave up just a swinging-bunt single in the third and a similar safety in the fifth, both to Caroline Keutzer.
In the sixth, Princeton leadoff hitter Makayla Hecht reached on a two-base error, stole third and scored the lone Princeton run on Kelsea Klingenberg’s groundout to short.
“We just decided to fight a little too late,” Princeton coach Jhavon Hayes said. “We’re a young team, inexperienced in the circle. We have one senior and one junior, and the rest are underclassmen. We haven’t been outside too much, but everybody’s in the same boat this time of year, and you either swing the bat or you don’t.
“I’m bringing a whole new style of coaching to them, something they haven’t had, so everybody’s learning each other and adjusting. We’re rebuilding, but I’m confident we’ll be OK the more we play.”