Fillies assume driver’s seat in Three Rivers race
MORRISON – For the last decade or so, the Morrison Fillies have almost always found a way to win games like the one they played on Thursday.
The Amboy Clippers came to town with a half-game lead over the Fillies in the Three Rivers. The Clippers left a half-game back with 1 week left in the regular season after Morrison dispatched them 7-0.
“A game like this right now is so important,” Morrison’s Shannon Finneran said. “We were nervous at the start because it was a big game. I think tonight will help get us ready for a run toward state.”
After managing just one hit in the first three innings against Amboy southpaw Kiara Kaleel, Morrison (20-5, 11-1) found the gaps in the fourth inning.
Morgan Ammon, Kaleel’s counterpart in the circle, opened the fourth with a single to right field.
A groundout by Allie Wiersema and a passed ball moved Ammon from first to third.
Kaitlyn Finneran then placed a bloop hit snugly against the line in left field for a double to score Ammon. Finneran then moved third on a wild pitch and scored on an error by shortstop Cassey Doege. Chelsea Eads scored later in the inning on a double by Allie Renkes to put Morrison up 3-0.
“It had been awhile since we’ve seen a pitcher that throws as hard as Kiara,” Morrison coach Tammy Deter said. “I think it took a time through the order to get used to that. We had some hits that found the holes and were aggressive when running the bases.”
Morrison tacked on three more runs in the fifth, thanks in part to three errors by Amboy (21-3, 11-2).
“We got behind and then started doing things that we just haven’t been doing this season,” Amboy coach Kelly Whitman said. “It was a big game, and I think the pressure got to us a little bit. We can learn from this and be better prepared for big games in the regional.”
Shannon Finneran scored a final tally in the sixth as she hit her second triple of the game. The throw from the outfield got away from third baseman Destinee Oenes, and Finneran scampered home.
“I slid into third, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to get up,” Finneran said. “I was a little tired. But, Coach told me to get up and run, and I did.”
The Clippers had runners on base in each inning, but could not string enough together to score. The leadoff hitter reached in each of the first three innings, with that runner being stranded at third in the first and second. In all, the Clippers left 11 runners on base.
“We were just one clutch hit away,” Whitman said. “We get another hit in the first or second inning, and I think it’s a different game. Kiara pitched great, but we didn’t give her the support at the plate or in the field today.”
Kaleel (18-3) had five strikeouts and one walk. Only two of the runs were earned thanks to five Amboy errors.
Ammon (15-1) allowed seven hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Morrison can clinch the Three Rivers with wins over Erie-Prophetstown and Riverdale on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Amboy needs Morrison to lose at least one of those two games to earn a share of the title. The Clippers wrap up conference play against Fulton on Monday in Amboy.
Star of the game: Shannon Finneran, Morrison, 2 triples, 2 runs, 1 RBI
Key performers: Kiara Kaleel, Amboy, 2 hits; also 6 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 5 SO, 1 BB; Kaitlyn Finneran, Morrison, 2B, RBI; Morgan Ammon, Morrison, winning pitcher, 7 H, 0 R, 3 SO, 1 BB; also scored two runs
Up next: Fulton at Amboy, 4;30 p.m. Monday; Erie-Prophetstown at Morrison, 4:30 p.m. Monday