RICHMOND – There have been days this season when the Marengo softball team could rely on its pitching without having to worry about much offensive support.
But Indians coach Dwain Nance had a feeling his team would need as much production from the plate as it could muster Wednesday against Richmond-Burton after narrowly escaping the Rockets earlier this week.
His players certainly heeded the call as Marengo pounded out 17 hits and got multiple hits from five different players in a 14-7 Big Northern Conference win.
"We needed our offense today," Nance said. "We produced one through nine and that's what you need. It's not just one person."
Marengo (15-6, 5-2 BNC) got five runs in its first at-bat, using a combination of three hits, two walks and an R-B miscue. The lead didn't last long, though, as the Rockets answered back with four runs of its own, capped by Samantha Dahlen's two-run home run.
Nance pleaded with his team to play with more energy with starting pitcher Bethany Hart struggling with control and fatigue. While knowing their offense could break the game open, the Indians locked in mentally after R-B made its first-inning surge.
"You can't let down," centerfielder Megan Semro said. "You can never feel safe."
The Indians struck again in the third, adding three more runs – two of which came on Semro's two-run homer before Gabbi Markison added a solo shot , pushing their lead back to five runs.
Marengo got plenty of production from its No. 2 and No. 3 hitters – Abby Kissack and Stephanie Cartwright – who had four and five hits, respectively.
Despite all of Marengo's firepower, R-B (5-8, 4-6 BNC) was never completely out of it until the seventh inning when the Indians again broke the game open with four runs. The Rockets drew to within 10-7 with two runs in the fourth inning and another in the sixth, aided by RBI singles by Megan Spohr, McKenna Wegner and Brogan Etten.
But after proving earlier this week that it could play Marengo close in a 7-5 loss, the Rockets' youth aided Marengo's late offensive burst. The Rockets had three errors and couldn't come up with the timely hits they needed. In the two runs loss this week, six of the runs R-B gave up were unearned.
"We have the potential – it's just avoiding messing up the routine plays," R-B coach Stephanie Rasmusen said. "We're in that game and a lot of it is us getting out of our heads."
Marengo took full advantage, putting together one of its biggest offensive performances of the season. And while a lack of hitting at times has led to frustration, the Indians will use Wednesday's hit parade to build for the postseason.
"This was really important and gives us a lot of confidence because we really need to get the ball rolling again," Semro said. "I think we're really going to do well after this. It kind of broke it open for us."