DIXON – A team like Stillman Valley doesn’t need help to win softball games, but received some anyway from Dixon on Tuesday afternoon.
Three third-inning errors by the Duchesses led to two unearned runs, and the Cardinals went on to a 4-2 win at Reynolds Field in a Big Northern Conference contest.
Stillman’s big inning began with a one-out bloop single from the No. 9 batter in the lineup, Alysa Morrison. Carly Wubbena followed with a grounder to second baseman Kara Gaither, who bobbled the ball to put runners on first and second.
After Dixon pitcher Elle Jarrett struck out Grace Lagerhausen for the inning’s second out, Megan Rose followed with a clean single to center to drive in Morrison. Wubbena motored all the way around from first base when the Duchesses’ center fielder, Ashley Blythe, had trouble coming up with the ball.
Rose took second on the play, and scored on a single by the next batter, Aubry Ashlock. Rose had stopped at third, but scored when Blythe again misplayed the ball.
“We made an error, and after that it kind of snowballed and our heads weren’t in it,” Dixon coach Candi Rogers said. “We’ve got to be mentally tougher than that all the way throughout the game.”
Stillman Valley (12-3, 11-2) added an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI single from Addison Wythe.
Jarrett (7-2) went the distance. She allowed four runs (two earned) and seven hits, hit one batter and struck out nine.
Dixon scored an unearned run in the first inning when leadoff batter Kelcy Brechon reached second base on a throwing error by Stillman Valley third baseman Jade Nanni. Two groundouts brought Brechon in to score.
The Duchesses (10-6, 8-6) had the potential for a big inning in the sixth, but managed just one run.
Mallory Coley led off with a single, and moved to second on a one-out swinging bunt by Gaither. The next batter, Sam Tourtillot, grounded a single to right, and Coley got the green light from Rogers as she rounded third.
The throw from Cardinals’ right fielder Mackenzie Luchsinger was on the money to Rose, who applied the tag to a diving Coley. Coley immediately said she eluded the tag, but after a short conversation between the two umpires, the call stood.
“Coach sent me and I went, and [Rose] did not touch me,” Coley said. “I dove, and I didn’t feel anything. I used my long arms and tried to grab the plate, and they called me out. That’s all right. We’ll get the next one.”
Gaither scored on a wild pitch by Stillman Valley hurler Wythe to make the score 4-2, but Arianne Smith grounded out to end the inning.
Wythe then worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning to end the game. The final out came when Lagerhausen, the center fielder, threw out Leigha Grove at first base on what looked to be a clean single up the middle.
Wythe (8-1) allowed two runs (one earned) and four hits, and struck out three.
Stillman Valley has long been one of the powers in the Big Northern, and won many a game by simply arriving on time. Improvements by some of the league’s bottom teams, however, help keep the Cardinals on their toes.
“We played [Dixon] earlier and won 5-1, and we knew Jarrett was a very good pitcher,” Stillman Valley coach Shawn Byers said. “On the whole, I think the entire conference is up. It’s not like it was a year ago. It’s not like it was 2 years ago. You have to be ready to play every game.”
Stillman Valley 4, Dixon 2
Star of the game: Addison Wythe, Stillman Valley, 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 SO; 2-for-3, RBI
Key performers: Elle Jarrett, Dixon, 7 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 9 SO; Megan Rose, Stillman Valley, 1-for-4, RBI, R
Up next: Mendota at Dixon, 4:30 p.m. today