STERLING – When a team racks up 15 hits with seven of them going for extra bases, it's usually hard to point to one single up the middle as the game-changer.
Yet Bailey Oetting's two-out, bases-loaded single in the third inning of Saturday's 9-4 win over Yorkville did just that for the Warriors (7-1).
"It was a good pitch," Oetting said. "She liked to work inside and high, so I was fighting off pitches to stay alive. I worked the count full, which we are always trying to do, and then got a good one to hit."
"That was a big hit," Sterling coach Rick Henderson said. "It was all about her being patient and finding her pitch."
After each team tallied a run in the first, Sterling's Stephanie Kester struck out three batters in a row in the second after leadoff hitter Renee Packer singled to center and advanced to second on an error in the outfield.
In the bottom of the second, Jenn Rahn led off with a bloop single, which was followed by a bunt single by Gabi Trujillo. After a fielder's choice on a Darien Bardoner grounder retired Rahn at third, Cassidy Gillihan put the Warriors ahead with a double to the fence in left-center.
Gillihan went 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
After Karlie Mellott walked, Shannon Long's single scored Bardoner to put Sterling up 3-1.
Kester hit into a fielder's choice for the second out to bring up Oetting, who worked the count full before ripping a shot on the ground into center field. Two runs scored to put Sterling up 5-1.
"We knew that they were going to hit the ball," Yorkville coach Kathi Dockstader said. "They always do when we come down here. We just didn't come out ready to play. It improved later in the game, but we were already so far behind."
A two-run double by Karlie Mellott increased the lead to 7-1 in the third inning. Mellott had a double, a triple and scored twice.
Mellott was struck in the face after a grounder to short in the sixth inning took a bad hop at the last second.
"We've been worried more about the outfield condition," Henderson said, "But that really took a wicked hop. Thankfully she was able to protect her face some."
That followed a hard liner back to Kester with one out. Kester knocked the ball down, but couldn't record an out.
Both baserunners came in to score to draw the Foxes within six at 9-3.
Yorkville (10-4) added another run in the seventh on a home run by Corrine Rowe. It was the Foxes' second home run, as Avery cranked one in the first inning.
"They could hit the ball, and home runs like that are part of the game," said Oettting, who was catching for Kester. "I thought Stephanie shook them off well and really did a great job today for us."
Kester (7-1) allowed six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Star of the game: Karlie Mellott, Sterling, 2 hits, 2B, 3B, 1 run, RBI
Key performers: Shannon Long, Sterling, 3 hits, 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs, Cassidy Gillihan, Sterling, 3 hits, 2B, 1 run, RBI
Up next: Sterling at Rock Falls, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday