Softball: Neuqua Valley deals Bartlett costly defeat
Neuqua Valley sophomore Jamie O’Brien will certainly be popular with Waubonsie Valley softball team members after what she did Wednesday against Bartlett.
The Wildcats pitcher threw six innings of shutout relief, and bounced a two-out, tie-breaking RBI single up the middle in the top of the ninth inning that let Neuqua Valley hand Bartlett its third straight loss, 4-3, putting Waubonsie Valley into position to win the outright Upstate Eight Valley title.
“The last time we played Bartlett I pitched and we lost 1-0 and it was really hard, so when I came in to pitch I was really excited,” O’Brien said. “I wanted to get this win because if we won, even though we couldn’t win conference, Waubonsie Valley is like our rival school and we wanted them to win it over Bartlett.”
Waubonsie Valley, which won 6-1 over Metea Valley Wednesday, is now 15-3 in the Upstate Eight Valley, tied with Bartlett (25-6, 15-3).
The Warriors finish conference play today at home with South Elgin, and the Hawks finish the conference at Lake Park Friday.
O’Brien (10-10) hadn’t pitched since last week and came in fresh to relieve Sydney Foran in the fourth with Neuqua trailing 3-2. She allowed Bartlett only three hits and walked three while striking out five.
Neuqua Valley (19-14, 12-7) tied it in the sixth off losing pitcher Amanda Montbriand, who suffered her first loss of the year after eight straight wins. Brooke Meyer singled, moved up on Alyssa Domico’s sacrifice, and after a strikeout, No. 8 hitter Rebecca Lincoln hit a swinging bunt that rolled just far enough so she could beat out the throw while Meyer raced home from third.
Bartlett had fallen behind 2-0 in the top of the first on two unearned runs, one of which scored on Madison Bartlett’s single.
But the Hawks backed Montbriand (nine innings, 10 hits, one walk, two earned runs, four strikeouts) by scoring three in the bottom of the first. An error scored one of the runs, another came in on Tori Burke’s RBI single, and the go-ahead run on Holly Pagan’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Hawks’ offense seemed to end, though, when O’Brien stepped into the circle.
“We had chances — in seventh and eighth innings, a few other times,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said.
“We got runners at second or third with one out or two outs and we couldn’t get that duck snort into the outfield. We had the chances, created the chances, moved the girls with either bunts or steals, the same way Neuqua did. But they got the big hit and we didn’t.
“I think these are the kinds of games you learn more from than when you beat a team 5-0, 7-0 or 7-3.”
Bartlett left runners at first and third in the eighth, first and second in the fifth, and at third in the fourth against O’Brien.
Andreana Taormina went 3-for-5, and Kaylyn Zierke 2-for-4 for Bartlett, while Kat Widup and Hannigan 2-for-4 for Neuqua Valley.
The rapid fall has been a tough one for Bartlett, which had won 12 straight and was unbeaten in conference before the losing streak.
“We’re learning how to play in these close games against good, sectional type teams,” Wolfsmith said. “Before this we had a few close games early, but had won a lot of games by two, three or four runs. It’s only going to help us when we get to the postseason.”