Eight Dixon errors pave way for Sterling
DIXON – With the wind gusting in toward the plate at Reynolds Field on Tuesday, Karlie Mellott squared to bunt on the first pitch from Dixon's Erin Smith.
Mellott, a junior from Sterling, put a little English on the ball as it dropped in the dirt in front of home plate and spun in place.
Before catcher Kari Wolfe could get there and deliver a throw, Mellott was standing on first base.
The bunt set the small-ball tone, which was aided by eight Dixon errors, that ultimately resulted in a 14-0 win for the Warriors in five innings.
"Both Karlie and Cassidy [Gillihan] have the green light to drop that down whenever they think they can make it work," Sterling coach Rick Henderson. "They both are getting used to reading the defenses and picking their spots, and then they let their speed do the rest."
Mellott scored later in the inning on a fielder's choice off the bat of Priscilla Aponte.
Sterling added another run, as McKenna Pearson – running for pitcher Stephanie Kester, who reached on an error – scored on a single by Bailey Oetting.
It was the first of 10 unearned runs for the Warriors.
"I don't know what it is about Sterling, but we always do this when we play them," Dixon coach Chris Jones said. "We'll play other good teams tough, like we did against LaSalle-Peru and Geneseo, and then just come out flat against Sterling. We can't seem to figure it out."
Kester was dominant from the start. Working with a 2-0 lead, she struck out the side in the bottom of the first inning. She went on to retire the first seven batters she faced before walking Bre Novay in the third inning.
Kester wound up with a no-hitter with nine strikeouts. Only two runners reached base, the second on an error in the fourth inning.
"Coming in with a lead takes all the pressure off me," Kester said. "I was able to work on a few things and didn't have to be perfect. If I fell behind, I could challenge the hitter and know that I'd be all right."
Sterling (13-1, 5-1 NIB-12 West) pulled away in the second, needing only three hits to do so. The rest of its production was courtesy of Dixon errors.
The Duchesses (6-9, 1-5) made four errors that led to five runs. The only hits were singles by Gillihan, Shannon Long and Jenn Rahn.
Smith allowed 15 hits, but only four of the runs scored were earned.
"It's a mental thing more than anything else," Smith said. "We had a lot of energy coming out, and we must have psyched ourselves out because it was Sterling. We know they are good."
Sterling scored three more unearned runs in the third inning to go up 10-0. At that point, both teams started substituting players.
One of the reserves was freshman Nadia Trujillo at catcher for the Warriors. Trujillo made a nice sliding catch on a foul ball by Bre Grobe in the fourth inning.
"We want the younger girls to get playing time right now," Kester said. "We might need that depth if something happens to one of us. Getting this experience will make them better for this year and for the years to come."
Star of the game: Stephanie Kester, Sterling, no-hitter, 9 strikeouts, 1 walk.
Up next: Streator at Sterling, 4:30 p.m. today; Geneseo at Dixon, 5 p.m. Thursday