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Split salvaged

DIXON – Clutch hitting was a scarce commodity during Friday’s softball doubleheader between Waubonsee and Sauk Valley.

Both teams marked in just one inning, and it was enough to produce a split. The Chiefs took the opener 3-0, but the Skyhawks bounced back to take the nightcap 2-0.

“Waubonsee is a good team,” SVCC coach Bob Lowe said. “They’re rated No. 1 in our region. Our goal is to just maintain, and when the regional championship comes around, hopefully it will be us and them again.”

In the first game, Waubonsee (23-9) produced five consecutive two-out hits against Sauk Valley starter Kiara Kaleel in the top of the third inning to score three runs.

Courtney Thomas, Alora O’Malley-Molk and Tarah Rayos drove in runs with their hits.

Rayos (10-3) made the lead stand up. She went all seven innings, allowing eight hits and no walks while striking out six.

The Skyhawks (18-10) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second inning on consecutive singles by Alysha Guy, Lori Lynch and Brianna Shultz, but they were left stranded. Allison Naujokas flew out to short left field, then Mackenzie Staples flew out to center to end the threat.

Sauk Valley also had two runners on base in the third and fifth innings, but were unable to produce any runs.

“Sauk Valley in Game 1 just couldn’t put the consecutive hits together,” Waubonsee coach Perry Clark said, “and we took advantage of that.”

In the second game, Sauk Valley was able to break through with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Kaleel and Guy had the key hits with a pair of two-out singles to produce the runs.

“Our goal is always to score first,” Kaleel said.

Kaleel also started Game 2, and worked out of bases-loaded situations in the first and third innings, as well as a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth before again running into trouble in the sixth.

The Chiefs’ Jessa Garcia led off with a single, then pinch-hitter Selena Kweder coaxed a walk. The next batter, LaDesha Nelson grounded out, but Garcia and Hannah Prucha, who re-entered the game for Kweder, each moved up a base.

Lowe then summoned Shultz, who had thrown three scoreless innings of relief in the opener, to put out the fire. She induced the first batter she faced, Ashley Blocker, into a come-backer to the circle. The next batter, Thomas, hit a lazy pop fly that was gloved by SVCC second baseman Stephanie Kester to end the inning.

Blocker had reached base four times in the first game, on a double, a single and two walks. She was 0-for-4 in the second game.

“I just had to keep the ball outside,” Schultz said. “I needed to avoid the inside curve. My outside curve was hitting every single time, and that’s what [the umpire] was calling.”

“You can always rely on Bri,” Kaleel said.

In the seventh, Shultz gave up a two-out double to Waubonsee’s Molly Jordan, but the game ended when the next batter, Mackenzie Brown, was thrown out on a close play at first base.

Kaleel (11-4) got the win. She allowed eight hits, one walk and hit one batter in 5 1/3 innings, with four strikeouts. Shultz recorded her second save.

Abby Foulk (7-4) took the loss for Waubonsee. She gave up two runs (both earned), eight hits and hit one batter, with three strikeouts.

College softball

Star of the game: Brianna Shultz (SV), 4 2/3 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 SO

Key performers: Kiara Kaleel (SV), 9 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 14 H, 7 SO; Casey Basic (W) 4-for-8

Up next: SVCC at Kirkwood Tourney, 11 a.m. Sunday

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