DIXON – For the Rock Falls Rockets, Thursday’s game against the Dixon Duchesses was sort of a trap.
It was the last game of a regular season marred by poor weather against the team they will meet next week in a 3A regional semifinal.
For the Duchesses, it was a perfect way to gauge the progress of their young, developing team.
It ended up working out well for both teams. Rock Falls avoided the trap, winning 3-0, and Dixon played a relatively clean game against a local powerhouse.
“It’s one of those games where we are up against a pitcher who throws a little slower, and we’re out in front most of the game,” Rock Falls coach Kris Nunez said. “With it being the last game before regionals and it having been such a strange spring, it was a game where we had a harder time getting going.”
The Rockets (24-4) left runners on second and third in the first inning against Dixon’s Beccah Jones (5-8).
“My curveball is the pitch I depend on,” Jones said. “When I get 0-2 or 1-2, I go with that to try and get them to chase it.
“I rely on my teammates out there to do the rest. They made all the plays today, and that’s the only way we are going to succeed.
It wasn’t until the third inning that the Rockets were able to get anything on the board.
The rally started with a Morgan Mammosser line drive to center. Kari Wolfe broke in on the ball off the bat and then had to scurry back as the ball flew over her head.
Mammosser went all the way to third on the play. Linsey Brown followed with a bloop single for the game’s first run.
Rock Falls added runs in the fourth and sixth, both thanks to Kaylyn Booker. In the fourth, she grounded out to first to score Addesyn Nailor from third. She then laid down a bunt that again scored Nailor in the sixth.
“There were actually a few times that I should have bunted them, but didn’t because I wanted to see the bats get going,” Nunez said. “But we did a nice job of manufacturing a couple runs there.”
The Dixon (9-15) bats struggled against flamethrower Jordan Giddings. They had three hits, including back-to-back singles by Rachel Musser and Jones to lead off the seventh. The other hit was a single by McKenzie Barnhart in the second.
Giddings (7-1) worked out of that jam in the seventh by enducing a popup to shortstop, followed by two groundouts to second.
“She’s a very good pitcher,” Musser said. “Early on, we weren’t getting much off her. It’s encouraging that, by the end of the game, we were starting to put the bat on the ball. We got to see her a couple times each, so hopefully if we see her again we’ll be more ready.”
If they build it
• The Dixon Duchesses are built on youth, which might not equal many wins or a deep run at next week’s 3A Sterling Regional. Yet this group and coach Chris Jones are hoping to turn a corner with a good end to the season. Check out SVM’s 3A Sterling Regional softball preview in Saturday’s edition.