ROSEMONT – Poor weather and even worse field conditions canceled many games early this season.
But after 20 practices, the Marengo softball team finally took the field for a game.
The Indians faced Wauconda at The Dome At The Ballpark, an indoor facility complete with two playable diamonds covered in field turf. As expected, the field played differently than a traditional outdoor diamond, but the indoor conditions didn't faze the Indians.
Most have played indoors before, and it showed early on in a 5-2 win Friday afternoon.
Marengo (1-0) hit opposing pitcher Kayla Wedl for two runs in the first inning as the Indians took advantage of the Bulldogs' jitters. Shortstop Shae Karsten led off the game with a triple and scored one batter later when Abby Kissack reached on a three-base error. She later scored.
"Our M.O. is to come out and score runs early, which is good," Indians coach Dwain Nance said. "We just held on there, and when we had to score [Veronica Ruelius] came up with a big hit in the sixth, and then we were able to add some more in the seventh."
The Indians held on to a 2-0 lead through the first three innings as pitcher Bethany Hart held Wauconda in check by allowing one hit through the first three innings, but the Bulldogs tied the score in the bottom of the fourth when Brooke Sefcik picked up two RBIs on a triple.
Nance called a timeout after the hit and had a meeting on the mound with his infield. Hart then retired the next two batters to end the inning and stop further damage.
"That was our first real adversity of the year," Nance said. "I just wanted to go out and say, 'We're all right,' and I pulled the infield in and just settled them down."
Both teams didn't do much in the fifth, but in the sixth it was Ruelius' turn. She turned on an inside pitch and drove the ball to the left-center gap for a triple that scored Hart as the Indians took a 3-2 lead.
"I just wanted to hit the ball and get it down where the defense wasn't," Ruelius said. "[Wedl] started to settle in and play us a bit and she was doing well, so I tried to do my best to get her out of her rhythm, and it turned out to be huge for us."
With the lead, Hart went to work on the mound and kept the Bulldogs from getting past first base. She gave up just one hit and added two more strikeouts in the final two inninhd to bring her total to seven in the game, three of which were looking. She also allowed three hits while helping her own cause with three hits at the plate. She went 3 for 4.
"I trusted in my defense and I knew that I could be calm and relax out there with that defense behind me," Hart said.
The defense didn't commit an error and made some spectacular plays. Second baseman Jessica Turner was key as she snagged two potential run-scoring line drives that would have gone for extra bases. Catcher Taylor Carlson also had a big game, picking off a runner on first and throwing out a would-be base stealer at second.
"I was just happy to get the strikeouts, and it was pretty good to get those hits, too," Hart said. "We were so anxious to get out here and play finally, and it was exciting."