STERLING – The Golden Warriors came to the plate seven times in a pair of games on Saturday and scored three or more runs in five of those innings, beating Rochelle 16-0 in four innings and Hononegah 16-3 in five.
Hononegah came into the game with just one loss on the year, and that was to defending Class 4A state champion Rock Island to open the season. Sterling snapped the Indians’ 10-game winning streak with three runs in the first inning, four more in the second, and a nine-run outburst in the third.
“We were just trying to stay loud and stay together and keep each other going,” Sterling rightfielder Jordan Thormeyer said. “I feel like once somebody got a hit, we just go back-to-back-to-back off that, and everyone had energy.”
The Golden Warriors (13-1, 2-0 NIB-12) got on the board when Olivia Edmondson sent a shot up the middle to drive in Grace Gould and Gretchen Gould. Edmondson then scored on a Hannah Jacoby single.
The four-run second all came with two outs, all courtesy of three Hononegah errors. Grace Gould’s roller up the third-base line was too hard for Emilie Hooker to handle. After a Gretchen Gould single, Thormeyer blooped a single to right to drive in Grace Gould. Gretchen Gould then scored on a double by Edmondson.
Genea Garza and Jacoby then hit back-to-back grounders to the left side of the infield that went through the legs of Hononegah fielders, scoring two more runs.
“Against good teams, you can’t give them five or six outs an inning and still expect to hold them down,” Hononegah coach Dan Bohn said. “Once they had that big inning, I think they relaxed a little more and just started driving the ball.”
In the third, the first five Warriors hit safely, with a pair of runs scoring on singles before Thormeyer blasted a three-run homer over the fence in right-center.
“I just saw the ball come in, inside corner, and I went with the pitch,” Thormeyer said. “It went where I wanted it to go.”
After a pair of flyouts to deep right, Jacoby, Meghan Sechrest and Amayia Hernandez hit back-to-back-to-back singles to plate another run, and Riley Dittmar capped off the scoring with a three-run home run to right.
Jayme Eilers (11-0) earned the win in the circle for the Warriors, pitching five innings and allowing three runs, all earned, on four hits. Brooke Wintlend hit a solo home run in the second, and Carrie Anderson added a two-run homer in the third, but Eilers pitched 1-2-3 innings in the first, fourth and fifth innings.
“Jayme is just consistent. She’s going to get ahead in the count,” Sterling coach Becki Edmondson said. “She doesn’t get rattled when she gives up a hit, and she’s just a very competitive pitcher. She is going to remember those hitters the next time and give them a bit of a different pitch sequence and see if that helps.”
In the opener of the doubleheader against Rochelle, Eilers pitched the first inning, striking out the side on 11 pitches before giving way to Elizabeth Palumbo.
The Golden Warrior freshman struck out six in three innings of work, allowing one walk and another baserunner on an error. She struck out the first batter she faced in the second inning, walked the next, then struck out the next two to retire the side. Her 1-2-3 third inning saw a strikeout and a pair of groundouts. In the fourth, she struck out the first two batters, then after a two-out error, induced a pop-up to Dittmar to end the game.
It was a no-hitter-by-committe for Palumbo and Eilers, and the second game in a row in which the Hubs have faced Sterling pitchers and not gotten a hit. Eilers threw a four-inning perfect game against the Hubs in the semifinal of the 2018 Class 3A Sterling Regional.
“My pitches were curves and rises that were really working for me the best,” Palumbo said. “I’m a little bit more confident when I go out there and we have a 9-0 lead, but I still want to throw my pitches right and keep them moving.”
Palumbo came to the circle with a 9-0 lead. The Warriors put their first three batters on base with Dittmar beating out an infield single, Grace Gould’s bunt sneaking under the hand of Rochelle firstbaseman Emilee Dueringer, and Gretchen Gould being hit by a pitch.
After Thormeyer drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, Edmondson was hit by a pitch, Grace Gould scored on an error, and Gretchen Gould scored on a wild pitch. Three runs were on the board with just one ball leaving the infield.
“We have some girls that have a little bit of speed this year,” Becki Edmondson said. “We’ve said, ‘Hey, if you can read the defense and you see that they are back, don’t be afraid to lay the bunt down even if I don’t give you the signal.’ It puts a lot of pressure on the defense when they know you can get on from a bunt or smack a line drive out to the outfield, too. They don’t know how to pitch you or how to play you.”
A single and an error in left drove in two more runs, and Hernandez doubled to score Jacoby to make it 6-0. Grace Gould then drove in two more runs with a double and scored on a single by older sister Gretchen.
“I think we just went in with the mentality that we were going to get on them early,” Grace Gould said. “We were struggling with that early in the season; we were scoring a lot of runs but we were waiting until late in games, so we decided we were just going to jump on them early.”
In the third inning, the Warriors turned to the long ball with home runs by Grace Gould, Olivia Edmondson and Garza.
“The girls before me kind of set the stage for that,” Grace Gould said. “They were getting great hits, and I just kind of worked off of their momentum.”
Over the course of two games, the Warriors were held scoreless in just two innings, the second against Rochelle and fourth against Hononegah, getting runners in scoring position in both. When they scored, the Warriors were able to score in bunches.
“They did a good job of hitting the ball hard today,” Becki Edmondson said. “We hit a lot of gaps. Even when the ball wasn’t in the gaps, it was hit hard and defensively they made a few errors that kept innings alive for us.”
Sterling 16, Rochelle 0; Sterling 16, Hononegah 3
Star of the game: Gretchen Gould, Sterling, 6-6, 5 runs scored in 2 games
Key performers: Olivia Edmondson, 6 RBIs in 2 games; Riley Dittmar, Sterling, 1 HR, 4 RBIs vs. Hononegah; Brooke Wintlend, Hononegah, 2-2, HR vs. Sterling
Up next: Ottawa at Sterling, 4:30 p.m. Monday