MARENGO – With the potential game-winning run at second base in the seventh inning, Marengo's Jenna Turner hoped at least to move the runner up and give the next two batters a chance to play hero.
Instead, the sophomore shortstop took matters into her own hands, slapping a line-drive double over Woodstock North left fielder Mackenzie Spung and scoring Hannah Ritter to send the Indians to a 3-2 walk-off win in Thursday's Class 3A Marengo Regional final.
The fourth-seeded Indians (22-15) have won 13 straight regional titles, going back to 2007. North, seeded fifth, ended the season at 15-15-1 and still is looking for its first postseason title.
Turner's one hit against four-year varsity pitcher Ellie Thurow came on an 0-2 pitch. Turner noticed Spung playing farther in from her normal position in left and knew she had a chance to knock it over her with a good swing.
"I just went in there with confidence," said Turner, who put the ball in play all four at-bats. "I knew if I could just move [Ritter] to third, the next batter would get her in. I got it on the fat part, and it went over.
"Thirteen years is a long time. My sister was here for four years, and it feels good to keep it going."
Ritter went 2 for 3 with two singles. She led off the seventh with a hard hit to right field and stole second – her 39th steal in 42 attempts – on the first pitch to Turner. Before the bottom of the seventh started, Ritter and Turner shared a handshake.
"Jenna and I love to play. Everybody on this team does, but Jenna and I get very excited," Ritter said. "That handshake kind of zones us in so we don't get too anxious or excited at the plate. I was just trying to relax, see the ball and do my best to get on."
Marengo scored single runs in the first and third against Thurow to take a 2-0 lead. Grace Houghton had an RBI groundout to score Turner in the first. With the bases loaded in the third, Kiley Christopher drove in Marengo's second run on the second of back-to-back hit-by-pitches from Thurow.
North was held to one hit through four innings against sophomore Brooke Behrens, but the Thunder loaded the bases with no one out in the fifth and scored two unearned runs on consecutive fielding errors at second and short.
Behrens got two strikeouts and a popout to get out of the inning. She allowed five hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one. Thurow gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
'I'm pretty proud of our kids," Marengo coach Dwain Nance said. "I have got to give a lot of credit to our pitcher. For a sophomore, she held her composure really, really well. And Thurow pitched a whale of a game, too. She got in a good little groove there before the seventh."
Piper Benedict had a double and an RBI for North, Mackenzie Salazar was 2 for 2 with a run, Spung had a hit and scored a run, and Abby Hartmann had an RBI in the season-ending loss.
North graduates four seniors: Thurow, Chloe Vermett, Spung and Savannah Adcock.
"We had a good season," North coach Paul Sandall said. "We battled every game, and the seniors played their hearts out. We came close in conference and here. Ellie threw hard every game, and Chloe just hit the snot out of the ball."
STAR OF THE GAME
Jenna Turner, Marengo, so., SS
Turner smacked a walk-off double in the seventh to score Hannah Ritter and send the Indians to a 3-2 win.
13: Marengo has won 13 straight regional titles.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Woodstock North pitcher Ellie Thurow finished her four-year varsity career with 899 strikeouts.
Class 3A Marengo Regional
Marengo 3, Woodstock North 2
Woodstock North 000 020 0 – 2 5 1
Marengo 101 000 1 – 3 7 2
WP: Behrens (7IP, 5H, 2R, 0ER, 1BB, 6K). LP: Thurow (6IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB, 4K)
Top hitters–Woodstock North: Benedict 1-3 (2B, RBI), Salazar 2-2 (R), Spung 1-3 (R), Hartmann 0-4 (RBI). Marengo: Turner 1-4 (2B, SB, RBI, R), Ritter 2-3 (SB, R), Houghton 1-3 (RBI, R), Christopher 1-2 (RBI).