STERLING – Thursday night, the Amboy softball faithful spelled redemption O-E-N-E-S.
Destinee Oenes, fresh off a costly error, delivered the two-run triple that the Clippers rode to a 6-2 Three Rivers victory at Newman High School.
The junior third baseman booted a routine grounder at third base, leading to two unearned Newman runs in the bottom of the fourth inning that tied the game at 2.
"In previous games, she'd let that eat her up and let it define her," Amboy coach Kelly Whitman said. "But today, she didn't. She came through. Big time."
Brooke Lovgren led off the top of the sixth with a roped single down the left-field line, and Kaitlin Liebing reached on a fielder's choice. After the game, Oenes said Laura Turnroth's first-pitch, shoulder-high fastball looked like a beach ball.
"It was just the best one I'd seen, and I had to hit it," Oenes said.
She clotheslined it with enough backspin to carry it over Stacia Walter's head in center field.
Amboy starter Lauren Akre reached with a bunt single, and Madeline Ely also reached on a bunt to load the bases. Groundouts by Kelsie Thurman and Kaitlin Appleman plated Oenes and Akre to give the hard-throwing redhead a four-run cushion.
Akre (5-4) allowed just one hit while striking out five over the last three innings to get the win. In total, she threw 128 pitches, struck out 10, allowed four hits and two walks and hit two batters. She also went 2-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored in the 8-hole.
This one defied recent trends and conventional statistical wisdom. Of late, Amboy (7-5, 4-5) has struggled to put away teams.
"It was really nice to actually finish a game this time," Oenes said.
"It seems like we get to the fifth inning, and we're hitting a wall," Whitman said. "We got through it today, though, and small ball really helped us out."
Speaking to the small ball, the Clippers batted 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position, but only one of those hits plated a run. After Kelsie Thurman bunted for a single to lead off the game and stole second, Kaitlin Appleman rifled a comebacker past Turnroth in the first to score her.
Appleman took second on the throw and, two outs later, scored on a passed ball when Brooke Lovgren struck out swinging. She took first as catcher Jaimie Hurd retrieved the ball.
Jenna Stevens singled with one out for Newman (5-3, 5-3) in the bottom of the fourth, and Walter reached on Oenes' error with two outs.
Erin Pasley strode up to the plate, visibly anxious. After fouling off the first pitch, she called for time and approached her coach, Rick Turnroth.
"I get down on myself easily," Pasley said. "I just told him I need to smile up there, and he gave me a good luck high-5."
She took two balls and then rifled the 2-1 offering back where it came from into center field for a two-run, game-tying knock. She credited a negative pinch batting technique she learned from her 14-and-under coach and "role model," Tracy Rice.
"I wish she could've been here to see that," Pasley said. "That was huge for me and my confidence, especially as a freshman."
All six runs charged to Turnroth (5-4) were earned. She allowed nine hits, struck out five and didn't issue a walk.
Oenes admitted a win at rival Newman was big, especially considering the team's late-inning struggles.
"Let's hope we can just keep it going from here," she said.
Star of the game: Lauren Akre, Amboy, CG, 4 H, 10 SO, 2 BB, 2 HBP … also 2-for-3, R
Key performers: Destinee Oenes, Amboy, 1-for-4, GW 2-run 3B; Erin Pasley, 1-for-4, 2 RBI
Up next: Amboy at Fulton, 4:30 p.m. today; Newman at Erie-Prophetstown, 4:30 p.m. Monday