OTTAWA — The La Salle-Peru softball team doesn’t mind road games.
The Lady Cavaliers listen to music, talk, joke around and sometimes even nap on their bus rides.
“I think we just like traveling — going to different fields, getting pumped up on the bus,” L-P senior Brianna Zeman said. “That’s really our key.”
In recent weeks, the Lady Cavs have shown their affinity for the road as they picked up Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division victories over then No. 1-ranked Sterling and ranked Geneseo.
The trend continued Tuesday when the Lady Cavs scored two runs in the seventh inning to beat rival Ottawa 2-0.
“We’ve come off some big road wins at Geneseo, at Sterling and now at Ottawa,” L-P coach Mike Schmidt said. “We’ve been testing ourselves on the road. I think our composure has been good. I’m real happy with it.”
The Lady Cavs needed composure Tuesday as they couldn’t get much going offensively until the seventh inning.
L-P only had two runners reach second base and did not have a runner advance to third in the first six innings.
Senior Brittany Zawacki finally got things going for L-P in the seventh when she ripped a single to left field.
Schmidt decided to let Carly Spelich swing away instead of sacrifice bunting Zawacki to second, and it paid off when the senior lined a single to left field.
Zeman put down a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third.
Junior Kylea Starkey then stepped to the plate and delivered a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home what proved to be the winning run.
L-P added an insurance run when Spelich raced home on a wild pitch.
“I thought our approach at the plate was pretty similar from the first inning through the seventh inning,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t really think we did anything different. I think we just hit the ball hard and we found our holes.”
Two runs were plenty for Zeman, who threw a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts and one walk.
“The outside curveball was really strong for me,” said Zeman, who did not allow a base runner the final two innings. “I’ve been working that a lot lately. … They were a little far off the plate. Carly and I recognized that right away and took advantage of it.”
Zeman stranded six Lady Pirates in scoring position, including two in the fourth inning.
Ottawa (5-3, 1-3 NIB 12 West) opened the fourth with back-to-back hits, but Zeman wiggled out of the jam with a groundout and consecutive strikeouts.
“Jaleesa (Kindred) pitched an outstanding game, the girls played really good defense behind her, we got runners on base — several of them touching second and third — but we just couldn’t get them home,” Ottawa coach Jeff Davis. “We couldn’t get that timely hit or get that ball in play when we needed it to get that runner home.”
With the victory, the Lady Cavs (9-4) are 5-0 after the first round of conference games.
“I think it’s big,” Schmidt said. “I think the reality of it is, we’ve had some big road wins and now we get everybody at our place. Obviously, we like to have the home-field advantage. I’m real pleased with our start to say the least.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.