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La Salle-Peru junior Kylea Starkey (No. 12) is congratulated after hitting a two-run homer Thursday during the Lady Cavaliers’ 10-1 victory over Streator in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game at Veterans Park in Peru. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
La Salle-Peru’s Katy Gealow (No. 6) slides into home plate Thursday. Gealow was out on the play but had a double, a run and an RBI in L-P’s 10-1 win over Streator at Veterans Park in Peru. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
On Tuesday, the La Salle-Peru softball team struggled offensively but managed to squeak out a two-run victory on a cold, blustery day.
In warm, sunny conditions Thursday, the Lady Cavaliers’ bats came to life as they routed Streator 10-1 in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game at Veterans Park in Peru.
“We hit the ball hard,” L-P coach Mike Schmidt said. “I’m real pleased with the way we hit the ball. Even some of our outs were hit extremely hard. When you hit the ball hard and put it in play, good things happen to you.”
The Lady Cavs pounded out 17 hits, including home runs by Kylea Starkey and Haley Wren.
Ten Lady Cavs recorded a hit, eight L-P players scored a run and seven drove in a run.
“We had a really good hitting day today,” senior Brianna Zeman said. “(Tuesday’s) game was a little rough, but we got all our kinks out so we did really good today. Hitting was our strength today.”
Zeman got things started for L-P during a five-run second inning with a hard line drive off Streator third baseman Mikayla Greenwood for a lead-off single.
“I just try to make contact,” Zeman said. “I’m not aiming for anywhere special. I just want to make hard contact.”
Following a pop out, Kelsey DeGrush ripped an RBI double down the left-field line. Starkey then blasted L-P’s first varsity home run of the season - and her first career varsity homer - to put the Lady Cavs up 3-0.
“I had my swing down. I just focused up there, kept my weight back and just went for it,” Starkey said. “It felt awesome. It’s always good to hit a home run.”
Brittany Zawacki drove in a pair of runs with a single later in the inning.
The five runs were more than enough for Zeman, who improved to 3-0 in the circle with a complete game.
She allowed one run on five hits while striking out four batters and walking just one.
“She pitched well,” Schmidt said. “Brianna’s a competitor. She comes to play. She works and prepares. She pitches a smart game. She’s off to a 3-0 start. For her, hard work pays off. She works hard in the winter and I think it’s shown this spring.”
The Lady Cavs gave Zeman even more cushion with a run in the fourth and four runs in the fifth, highlighted by a lead-off homer by Wren and a two-run single by Carly Spelich.
L-P (5-0, 2-0 NIB 12 West) will play in the Freeport Invitational this weekend.
The Lady Cavs open the tournament today against Marengo, which placed second in Class 3A last season and beat La Salle-Peru 1-0 in the Class 3A state championship game in 2011.
L-P also will play Normal U-High today.
Note: All 17 L-P players who were available got an at-bat.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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