Softball: Kaylee Killelea hits, pitches Marquette Academy to win over Putnam County

Crusaders top Panthers 10-0 in five innings to grab share of league title with Seneca

Marquette Academy's Kaylee Killelea

OTTAWA — Marquette Academy senior Kaylee Killelea has been a fantastic two-way player for the Crusaders and helped her team to many victories over her three years with both her arm and bat.

The lefty again was one of the keys in Marquette adding another win to that total in Thursday’s Tri-County Conference finale against Putnam County at June Gross Field.

Killelea had a pair of singles, a double, a RBI and reached on a walk, while also pitching four shutout innings and allowing just one hit and one walk with seven strikeouts to help the hosts roll to a 10-0 victory over the Panthers in five innings.

Marquette, now 19-6 overall, ends the league schedule at 13-1 to finish as co-champions with Seneca, the two squads having split their two conference contests earlier this season. It was the first conference championship for the Crusaders since they shared the honor with the Fighting Irish in 2019.

“We came out wanting to be aggressive at the plate and the girls all did that.”

—  Brad Oakes, Marquette Academy softball coach

“I just knew we needed to win these last couple of games,” Killelea said. “I’m not sure I did anything different than I normally do, but with a chance of getting a share of the conference title I think we all were extra focused these past two games.”

Marquette, which finished with 14 hits, took the lead for good in the first inning as Maisie Lyons reached on an infield single with one out off PC starter Kara Staley, stole second and scored on an opposite field double down the left-field line by Killelea.

“I feel like (Staley) tried to pitch us all high in the zone today, but to be honest, we swung at a lot of those type of pitches (in Tuesday’s 6-2 win). I think we were all able to lay off that pitch today, were more patient, and made her bring the ball down more.”

“(Kaylee) threw the ball just as hard on Tuesday,” Marquette coach Brad Oakes said. “She works hard on her pitching in her off time, so to see her throw the ball as well as she has the past few games isn’t a big surprise. She also keeps hitting the ball well for us.

“We came out wanting to be aggressive at the plate and the girls all did that. This was another nice win for us.”

The hosts added one run in the second on a RBI base hit by Emma Rinearson, then three runs in each the third and fourth.

In the third, Makalya Backos had a sacrifice fly and Eva McCallum and Avery Durdan (3 for 3) back-to-back run-scoring doubles. In in the fourth, Taylor Cuchra’s sac fly preceded RBI hits from Backos and McCallum to make it 8-0.

Then after Lindsey Kaufmann pitched a scoreless top of the fifth, Killelea reached on a two-out single before Cuchra smashed a no-doubt-about-it wall-off homer to straight-a-way centerfield to invoke the ten-run rule.

Gabby Doyle, Selina Breckenridge and Sarah Johnson each recorded a single for Putnam County (15-8, 7-7).

“(Marquette) hit the much better than they did on Tuesday,” Putnam County coach Adrianna Zeman said. “They made adjustments for sure, and we missed a couple spots here and there they took advantage of. They hit the ball hard at times, and at other times just found open spots. I felt like we played a pretty solid game in the field, but you are not going to win any games when you don’t score. We swung at way too many high pitches today and just didn’t make the pitcher bring the ball down.

“We just didn’t come into the game with the energy we needed, and the girls know that. In road games you have to be ready to go once you step off the bus and we weren’t today.”

Marquette is next scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Somonauk on Friday and host Forreston at 11 a.m. Saturday. Putnam County is now off until Thursday when it will open up Class 1A regional play against host Sterling Newman at 4:30 p.m.