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La Salle-Peru junior shortstop Abby Turczyn throws to first base on an attempted double play Tuesday during the Lady Cavaliers’ 4-3 victory over Morris in a Class 3A Streator Regional semifinal. Morris batter Laney Torkelson was called out at first base when obstruction was called on Lauren Severson (No. 6). NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
La Salle-Peru senior Haley Wren high fives coach Mike Schmidt while rounding third base after she belted a solo home run Tuesday during the Lady Cavaliers’ 4-3 victory over Morris in a Class 3A Streator Regional semifinal. Wren’s home run in the fourth inning tied the game at 2-2. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
STREATOR — Abby Turczyn can’t explain the La Salle-Peru softball team’s start Tuesday afternoon.
The No. 1-seeded Lady Cavaliers fell behind by two runs to No. 5-seeded Morris in a Class 3A Streator Regional semifinal.
The Lady Cavs made two costly errors in the first two innings and struggled the first time through the lineup against Morris pitcher Erica Gualandri.
Eventually, L-P made several key defensive plays and turned it around offensively to rally for a 4-3 victory.
“I think we came out kind of slow, but we knew we had to pick it up — we can’t lose the first game of regionals,” Turczyn said. “We were pumped up on the bus, so I don’t know why we came out flat. I’m glad we picked it up and turned it around quick.”
The Lady Cavs (20-9) will face the winner of today’s Ottawa-Streator semifinal at 11 a.m. Saturday for the title.
L-P split with both teams during the regular season, beating each in the first game.
“I’m hoping the team that played the first time through shows up and not the one that showed up the second time through,” L-P coach Mike Schmidt said. “We have some things to clean up and we have a few days to do it. We’re going to work harder this week and hopefully clean up our defense.”
The L-P defense struggled early Tuesday as an error in each of the first two innings led to an unearned run in each.
“We had a couple errors in the first couple innings,” L-P third baseman Haley Wren said. “We just need to get our defense tighter. Once we do, we get more confidence and our bats follow.”
The Lady Cavs put Morris down in order in the third inning with the help of a double play, then got their bats going.
Whitney Lippert singled with one out and then stole second and third.
With two outs, Turczyn engaged in a long battle with Gualandri, fouling off pitch after pitch. Finally, Turczyn singled up the middle to bring home Lippert and make it a 2-1 game.
“We had a really good defensive inning then Abby got up to the plate, there was a runner on base and she did a really good job of fouling the balls off, then batted her in,” Wren said. “I think that started us off.”
If Turczyn started it, Wren really got the momentum going in L-P’s favor.
The senior led off the fourth inning with a solo home run that bounced off the top of the left-centerfield fence and over to tie the game.
“Coach Schmidt was telling us to wait back,” Turczyn said about how L-P got the offense going. “I think we really just focused in and started seeing the ball better, especially Haley Wren. Props to her on that awesome hit. That was great and that really got us going.”
L-P added two runs in the fifth when Taylor Naumann, who reached on an error, raced home on a fielder’s choice by Turczyn and pinch runner Anna Konczak scored when Wren was hit with a pitch with the bases loaded.
“The home run, I think that was the turning point of the game” Morris coach Jen Lowery said. “It tied it up and it was a new ball game, and we got shaken up about it. We had the error that (helped them) get the lead. It was a game changer.”
The Lady Cavs preserved the lead with a pair of key defensive plays.
In the sixth, senior right fielder Katy Gealow chased down a deep fly ball to right centerfield and then threw to second base for a double play.
In the seventh, Alex Kjellesvik ripped a harder grounder that bounced off Wren at third base, but Turczyn scooped it up with her glove and flipped to Wren at third for the second out.
Lauren Severson then hit an RBI single to make it 4-3 before Brianna Zeman struck out Laney Torkelson to end the game.
“Katy (Gealow) had a tremendous catch in the gap,” Schmidt said. “She ran that down. She took a great angle to the ball then doubled the girl up. Abby Turczyn made a heads up back-up play, and that’s why she’s a tremendous infielder for us. She stays with the plays. It was a hard hit ball. Haley stayed in front of it and did her job and knocked it down. Abby was there to pick it up. It was a good team effort.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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