By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — PROPHETSTOWN, Ill. — Fulton and Erie/Prophetstown are looking to take down Morrison, the favorite in Three Rivers Conference softball. Before the Steamers or the Panthers worry about that, however, E/P won 13-3 on a windy Monday in the conference opener for both teams.
The Panthers didn't have to do much hitting in their big inning, the third. Five runs crossed the plate via a Savannah Mettler two-run double, a passed ball, a hit by pitch and a wild pitch.
Then, in the fifth inning, the Panthers added four more runs, highlighted by a Kylie Ackerman double that scored Laykin Miner and Stephanie Thulen.
E/P put up 12 hits against the Steamers, including three each from Ackerman and Miner, while Mettler and Emily Cox each had two hits.
Cox and Ackerman recorded four RBIs; Miner, Cox and Thulen each had three runs.
Chelsea Liesnewski picked up the loss for the Steamers, allowing 13 runs in the first five innings while punching out five hitters and walking a half dozen.
Before the two big rallies by the Panthers, Fulton tried to make its stand early.
Fulton chipped its deficit to 5-3 in the top of the fourth when recent Lakeland College signee Jenna Jones hit an RBI single, followed by a two-run single from Liesnewski.
Liesnewski led the Steamers with two RBIs, while Jones had two of the four Fulton hits.
Fulton on the rebound
Fulton coach Jessie Rosenow believes once the ball starts rolling, good fortune will come the Steamers' way.
"Our upperclassmen have got to want it," Rosenow said. "They're striving to want it, want it, want it, and we're doing a lot of team bonding, and they're starting to realize how bad they're going to have to work and want it."
One thing that the Steamers have going for them is the amount of leadership Rosenow thinks they have.
"We have six seniors, and we have a lot of great leaders," Rosenow said. "I pulled all of them aside before the season started, and I challenged them that they were the ones who were going to have to start this tradition.
"I think we have three seniors who are stepping up right now," Rosenow said. "Jenna Jones is stepping in and doing a really good job with that, same thing with Ann Renkes at first base, and Chelsea. Lots of seniors stepping up and responding to the game."
Rosenow says the Steamers will play aggressively, which helped them get all three of their runs in the fourth inning Monday.
"We like to hit, and we like to run," Rosenow said. "It's early in the season, and we're making mistakes right now, but as the season goes along, we would like to be the first team who forces the first mistake."
The Steamers like to hit, and that is making a lot of people notice despite Fulton cracking just four hits in the road loss in Prophetstown.
"I've had parents, opposing coaches and umpires come up to me say that this is a hitting team, and I would totally agree with that," Rosenow said. "That's my philosophy is to hit."
Rosenow is a first-year coach of the Steamers and has some local ties to the area. Rosenow spent her junior and senior years playing for Ashford and was honorable mention All-MCC in 2010 as an infielder. As a high school player for Erie, she was named to the Herald All-Area First Team.
E/P's eye on a title
The Panthers know what they want and know who to go through in order to get that championship (and more regional wins come postseason play) — the Morrison Fillies. The good thing is that E/P will get that chance next Monday at home.
The reason why the Panthers are in position to challenge the Fillies is how they've started the season, especially this past weekend.
E/P went up against Class 3A powerhouse Geneseo, and after getting beat 17-6 in Game 1, the Panthers came back to win on a walkoff double by Alicia Stout in Game 2.
"Geneseo came out swinging in that first game," Panthers coach Bob Phelps said. "In that second game, we settled down, had some really good plays and we were real aggressive with the bats."
By beating Geneseo, that gave the Panthers a jolt they needed heading into Three Rivers action.
"Splitting with them definitely made us a threat in our conference, I think," Ackerman said. "They wind up so stacked, but we held them with tight defense. We have some really good talent this year."
ERIE/PROPHETSTOWN 13, FULTON 3 (6 INNINGS)
Fulton 000 300 — 3 4 0
Erie/P'town 005 44X — 13 12 1
Chelsea Lienewski (5 ip, 12 h, 13 r, 13 er, 6 bb, 5 so) and Maddy Andersen. Kylie Ackerman ( 5 ip, 4 h, 3 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 2 so) and Kaeli Kovarik. Multiple hits — Fulton, (Jenna Jones 2); E/P (Laykin Miner 3, Ackerman 3, Emily Cox 2, Savannah Mettler 2). 2B — Fulton, (Jones); E/P (Mettler, Cox). RBIs — Fulton (Liesnewski 2, Jones); E/P (Cox 4, Ackerman 4, Mettler 2, Kovarik).