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It wasn’t pretty, but La Salle-Peru softball coach Mike Schmidt will take it.
On a cold, blustery day at Veterans Park in Peru, the Lady Cavaliers struggled to get much going offensively but still managed to pull out a 3-1 victory Tuesday over Dixon in their Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division opener.
“I told the girls it wasn’t the best win we’ve ever had, but it’s a win where you just stay with it throughout the course of the game,” Schmdit said. “We were trying to find a break and we got a break. … Sometimes they don’t look great, but they still end up being a victory.”
The Lady Cavs only managed one hit through the first three innings, and in the fourth inning, L-P’s Abby Turczyn was thrown out trying to steal third base and the Lady Cavs stranded a pair of runners.
However, L-P finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the fifth inning.
Down 1-0, L-P started with a single by Kelsey DeGrush and a walk by Kylea Starkey.
Following a fielder’s choice, Katy Gealow singled to load the bases.
After another fielder’s choice in which Starkey was forced out at home plate, the Lady Cavs finally got their break when Zawacki drew a walk to tie the game.
“It’s tough,” Zawacki said about holding back a swing in a bases-loaded situation. “But it’s either that or you’re going to swing at a bad pitch, so you have to wait for a good pitch to it. If it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come and it ends up working out either way.”
The Lady Cavs then caught another break when a hard grounder by Haley Wren was misplayed by Dixon shortstop Rachel Musser, which allowed two more runs to score.
“We were trying to find a break and we got a break,” Schmidt said. “We put the ball in play numerous times, but we hit it right at somebody for a force out. We finally found a break when they walked one it, and we got another break after that.”
Zawacki then pitched two more scoreless innings to close out the win.
The senior improved to 2-0 on the season by allowing one earned run on three hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.
Dixon’s lone run came on an RBI double by Haley Fitzsimmons in the fourth inning.
“Brittany did an outstanding job for us,” Schmidt said. “I thought both pitchers did pretty good considering the conditions that we had today. It was cold and everybody had layers on. Brittany got a lot of first-pitch strikes. I thought she did a nice job moving the ball and she fielded her position outstanding today as well.”
The Lady Cavs played errorless defense behind Zawacki.
Turczyn had three assists and snagged a hard line drive in the sixth, Gealow made a diving catch at second in the sixth and first baseman Callie Schmidt caught a hard line shot in foul territory in the seventh.
“Abby made a couple nice plays at shortstop for us,” Mike Schmidt said. “We really didn’t have but a couple balls hit into the outfield. It wasn’t like there were a lot of balls hit hard, but you still have to make the routine plays, and we did.”
The Lady Cavs (4-0, 1-0 NIB 12 West) return to action with a conference game Thursday against Streator at Veterans Park.