MORRISON – In a battle for the top spot in the Three Rivers North, the upstarts went on the road and beat the traditional power.
In a resheduled game Saturday afternoon, Erie-Prophetstown pulled away and captured a 6-1 victory over Morrison, using a balanced offense and strong defense. Pitching was a forté for both sides.
“We knew they were a tough team,” said Morrison interim coach Mike Wiersema, subbing for head coach Tammy Deter, who was absent due to a death in the family. “We prepared for them, and today, the bats weren’t working as well as what we wanted them to. They got us today; they were obviously the better team today.”
Kylie Ackerman picked up the win for the Panthers (18-2, 7-0), as she went all seven innings, only giving up one earned run and four hits, while striking out six and surrendering one walk.
Brooke Stralow took the loss for the Fillies (16-2), as she gave up four earned runs and eight hits, striking out 12 batters and walking three.
“It felt good, because the defense was right there behind me,” Ackerman said. “I can’t do it all myself, I have to have that defense. We also have to hit, and we did both of those things.
“There was only one inning that they hit, and we took it away from them by only giving up one run.”
EP set the tone was set early, both on offense and defense. Savannah Mettler reached on a throwing error in the first inning with two outs, and was driven in a batter later by Ackerman to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage. On the flip side, Ackerman forced three straight ground outs in the bottom of the inning and keep the momentum firmly in the Panthers’ corner.
In the third, Mettler again reached base, this time on a single. She was once again driven in, this time with a little more authority. Emily Cox hit a high fly ball to left field with the wind, and it sailed out to give her team a 3-0 lead in the top of the third.
“I was a little nervous coming in,” Stralow said. “We knew they were going to hit the ball, but I knew that I had a good defense behind me, so I wasn’t too nervous. They’re a really good hitting team, and I pitched a couple where I wasn’t supposed to, and they took advantage.”
The Fillies responded in the bottom half of the third.
With two outs, Shannon Finneran doubled to the left-field fence. In scoring position, she was then driven in by Stralow with what proved to be the only run for Morrison.
But moving to the top of the fourth, the Panthers were quick to counter it, once again using power to their advantage.
With two runners on, Stephanie Thulen hit a bomb over the left-field fence, very close to where Cox hit hers the previous inning. This capped the scoring and provided three insurance runs.
“If you ever come to a practice to see how hard the girls work, this isn’t a surprise,” Panther coach Bob Phelps said. “It makes a difference. You don’t win games out here, you win games in practice. We’ve worked really hard on hitting good, fast pitching. When we practice that, these girls are going to step up to the plate and hit the ball well.”
Erie-Prophetstown 6, Morrison 1
Star of the game: Kylie Ackerman, EP, 4-hitter, 1 R, 6 SO, 1 BB; RBI
Up next: Riverdale at Morrison & Wethersfiled at Erie-Prophetstown, both 4:30 p.m. today