ROCK FALLS – A Geneseo blooper turned into a bomb, and it led to doom for the Rock Falls softball team.
Bailey Mitchell connected for a grand slam in the top of the first inning, and the Maple Leafs went on to a 9-1 victory over the Rockets in a nonconference game on Saturday morning.
Geneseo (9-5) loaded the bases on an error, a walk and an infield single, and that brought Mitchell to the plate. A 1-0 offering from Rock Falls starter Hannah Blanton was lifted high into the air by Mitchell, who had three home runs entering the game.
What initially looked like a lazy fly ball to right field ended up carrying over the fence for a grand slam. Mitchell admitted it wasn’t a ball that was crushed, but was helped greatly by a stiff breeze from the west.
“It was a lot of wind,” Mitchell said. “It was pretty high up there, and it really shouldn’t have been that high.”
The Maple Leafs tacked on three runs in the third on a two-out, RBI double by Dawsyn Hartman and an infield single that Ava Bieneman beat out. A second run scored on Bieneman’s base hit when the ball got past Rock Falls first baseman Emalie Chavira.
Geneseo added single runs in the fourth and seventh innings to make it a 9-0 lead at the time.
“We’ve been really preaching the last couple of weeks about getting out early,” Geneseo coach Pat Mitchell said. “The longer you let teams hang around, the harder it becomes on everybody. Scoring runs early was huge. I don’t know if the home run was wind-aided or not, but we’ll take it. We’re not going to apologize for it.
“We know Rock Falls is down a pitcher [Payton Yanes] right now, so that was huge for us – scoring early just to relax ourselves.”
The Rockets avoided a shutout with a solo home run by Karli Fischbach in the bottom of the seventh inning. Rock Falls rapped out eight hits, all in the last five innings, but was unable to do much damage against Geneseo starter Delaney Ostrowski.
“We were definitely putting our bats on the ball,” Rock Falls coach Kris Smith said. “We put the ball in play a lot, but we left way too many runners on. [Ostrowski] had a really nice off-speed pitch that kept us off-balance. We had some great, hard hits today, but we just couldn’t produce.”
Ostrowski (8-4) went the distance and allowed eight hits and one run, with seven strikeouts.
Blanton (3-2) took the loss for the Rockets (9-5). In three innings plus three batters in the fourth inning, she allowed eight runs (seven earned), seven hits, six walks and a hit batsman, with four strikeouts. Kylie Fischbach tossed the last four innings and allowed one earned run, three hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts.
Yanes, the team’s primary pitcher who has been out with a concussion suffered in an April 6 game against Rockridge, is scheduled to be examined by a doctor on Monday. She hopes to return for the April 19 game against Moline.
Geneseo 9, Rock Falls 1
Star of the game: Bailey Mitchell, Geneseo, grand slam, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R
Key performers: Delaney Ostrowski, Geneseo, 7 IP, 1 R, 8 H, 7 SO; Karli Fischbach, Rock Falls, HR
Up next: Dixon at Rock Falls, 4:30 p.m. Monday