OREGON – Strikeouts were coming one after another in Saturday’s Class 2A regional softball final at Oregon Park West.
Erie-Prophetstown’s Aylah Jones struck out 15 batters, walking none. Oregon’s Mia Trampel struck out 11.
Trampel’s 11th strikeout was the final out of the top of the seventh, ending it in a 2-0 Hawks’ win.
Oregon’s fifth-inning rally started with a strikeout as well.
Coming up to pinch hit in what was then a scoreless tie with one out in the fifth, Oregon’s Katelyn Bowers reached up to bunt a two-strike pitch up and out of the zone. She missed it, but so did Panthers catcher Mak Glassburn, allowing Bowers to race for first as the ball went back to the screen.
Bowers later stole second, and scored when Reilee Suter ripped a two-out double to left.
“The first [pitch] was just a normal pitch, and then the second one I swung at was a rise and it was foul,” Suter said. “Then there was a couple balls, and someone in the stands said, ‘It’s not going to be a rise,’ so I got prepared for not rise, and it wasn’t a rise.”
Suter scored moments later, as Bella Koertner singled up the middle to make it 2-0.
That was all the offense Trampel needed in the circle. She pitched 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth and sixth, and worked her way out of jams several times. Jones led off the first with a walk, but was stranded at second to end the inning. Jaiden Oleson led off the fifth with a single to left, eventually working her way around to third before a strikeout ended that inning. In the seventh, Corrie Remley led off with a single to right, but a strikeout, a popout to first and another strikeout ended that inning and the game.
“She just brings pretty good heat,” Oregon coach Nate Rogers said. “She’s such a battler and a warrior. With the temperatures today we weren’t sure, we haven’t played in this hot weather, but she played through it.”
Erie-Prophetstown (17-6) had its biggest threat in the third. After Sydney Schwartz drew a one-out walk, Jones and Emma Davis bunted their way aboard to load the bases. But the Hawks got out of that threat when a ball hit back to the circle turned into a 1-2-3 double play.
“Just had to really focus on the next batter,” Trampel said.
The Panthers stranded six runners in the game and had four runners in scoring position, but were unable to score.
“I just told the girls at the end of the game that we’ve been scoring multiple runs a game all season long, and the same thing happened against Rock Falls the other night, we had girls in scoring position and, for whatever reason we just can’t get the extra base hit we need to score those runs,” Erie-Prophetstown coach Kerrie Tenboer said. “We had lots of opportunities, and it just didn’t go our way.”
Trampel was able to rely on her fielders when she needed to. Remley twice smacked hard-hit balls directly at Oregon infielders. Glassburn had a sharp line drive with two outs in the sixth directly at Suter at shortstop.
“We had a lot of good communication and everyone was on their toes,” Suter said. “The day before the game, we practiced a lot of fly balls, so that got us prepared. Jesse [Suter] at third base called me to get it, so I was defensively ready.”
Trampel needed every bit of that defense with Oregon’s hitters able to do little against Jones most of the way. A bunt single in the first and an infield single in the second failed to produce any runs. Lena Trampel ripped a double to left in the fourth, the first ball any Oregon player had hit out of the infield in the game, and in the process breaking a string of seven straight strikeouts from Jones.
“Screwballs and riseballs always worked,” Jones said. “That’s my go-to pitch.
“Coach Tenboer always knows what to call. She knows the right sequence and she always knows what’s working for me.”
After the string of seven strikeouts, which included striking out the side in the third, she struck out four batters in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
“She’s been our rock every single time she’s been on the mound for us,” Tenboer said. “She was throwing lights-out again. Her screwball, they were chasing, so we just kept at that. She threw a great game. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Oregon (23-7) will visit top-seeded Richmond-Burton in the sectional semifinal on Tuesday. Richmond-Burton beat Marengo 11-9 in their regional final.