No heroics were needed for the Pekin softball team’s second Mid-Illini Conference win of the season.
Just shutout pitching, solid defense and clutch hitting, normally a recipe for success.
The Dragons blanked Morton 4-0 Thursday, a week after Olivia Percefull’s three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Pekin a 6-3 win over Canton.
Pekin pitcher Lexi Juergens threw a three-hit shutout, fanned a season-high 10 and didn’t issue a walk against host Morton.
“Our defense did a good job behind Lexi. I especially liked that after we made an error (the Dragons had four of them), we didn’t panic and make more errors and let them hurt us,” said Pekin coach Skip Penning.
“All I want our pitchers to do are to not walk anyone and keep the ball in the park. If we do that and our defense is good, we have a good chance to win.”
Juergens helped her cause at the plate with three hits. Erin Flairty had two hits for the Dragons (2-1, 2-5) who had 10 hits for the game.
Molly Flannigan, Riley Carroll, Percefull and Flairty each knocked in a run.
“We’ve been hitting the ball right at people. That didn’t happen against Morton,” Penning said.
East Peoria beat Pekin 4-1 Tuesday in a conference game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie. Pekin made three errors in the sixth.
Juergens struck out seven and walked three.
“Lexi pitched well enough to win,” Penning said.
Savannah Curtis went the distance on the mound for East Peoria, allowing five hits.
Pekin leftfielder Hannah McDonald, who hyperextended her knee in warm-ups before the East Peoria game, is expected to be back next week after not playing against East Peoria and Morton. Freshman Grace Wyman has filled in admirably for McDonald, a three-year starter.
The Dragons are off until next Tuesday, when they’ll play host to Mid-Illini opponent Washington.
GIRLS SOCCER: It wasn’t cheaper by the dozen on the road this week for the Pekin girls soccer team.
The Dragons scored a total of 12 goals in a 6-1 win Tuesday over Mid-Illini Conference rival East Peoria and a 6-2 victory Thursday over Bloomington Central Catholic in a non-conference game.
Pekin (6-2, 2-1) scored five goals in the first half against Central Catholic after scoring five goals in the second half against East Peoria.
“We came to play against Central Catholic and we had our rhythm from the get-go,” said Dragons coach Edgar Sandoval.
“Our passing continued to be great in the second half, but we just couldn’t finish our chances,” he said.
Tyranie Cox scored three times against Central Catholic. Alex Bassen, McKenzie Cupi and Allie Scally had the other Pekin goals.
Bassen, who scored on a penalty kick, had two assists and Scally had an assist. Scally’s goal was unassisted off a corner kick.
Pekin goalie Paige Smith had 14 saves.
Against East Peoria, Sandoval said, the Dragons had a lot of shots in the first half but put most of them in range of the Raiders goalie.
“When you look up before you shoot, what’s the first thing you see? The goalie,” he said. “You have to take a moment, pick a spot, and place the ball there. After we started doing that, the floodgates opened.”
Cox and Bassen each had two goals against East Peoria (3-4-1, 1-2). Maddy Cash and Scally had the other Pekin goals. Cox and Cash each had two assists and Morgan Haynes and Cupi each had an assist. Smith made 10 saves.
Sandoval said Pekin center back Tayler Scally, a four-year starter who has been out all month with an ankle injury suffered March 27 against Moline, hopefully will return for the Dragons’ next game, an important Mid-Illini contest next Tuesday at Morton.
Pekin’s postponed non-conference games against Mahomet-Seymour (April 4) and Normal U. High (April 7) probably won’t be rescheduled, Sandoval said.
BASEBALL: The Pekin baseball team had eight errors and seven hits in Mid-Illini Conference games against Canton on Wednesday and Dunlap on Thursday.
Here’s another not-so-pretty statistic: Pekin fanned 16 times against Canton.
Based on those numbers, it should come as no surprise that the Dragons (5-3, 1-2) lost twice. Host Canton won 4-1 and visiting Dunlap won 11-3 in a makeup from a game postponed April 4.
There was something for Pekin fans to cheer about in the Dunlap game. Evan Pogioli blasted a three-run homer over the fence in left-center in the bottom of the third inning to give Pekin a 3-2 lead.
“We knew it was gone as soon as Evan hit it,” said Pekin coach Larry Davis.
Dunlap (10-2, 3-1) scored twice in the fourth and twice in the fifth to move back in front 6-3 and the Eagles poured it on with four runs in the sixth, taking advantage of three straight Pekin errors.
There were a couple other frustrations for Pekin in the loss to Dunlap. The Dragons loaded the bases with nobody out in the first but couldn’t score, and they retired the first two Dunlap batters in the fourth before the Eagles re-took the lead.
Nathan Righi was the losing pitcher. He went 4 1/3 innings. Dunlap had 14 hits against Righi and two relievers.
Dunlap’s only loss in conference play is a 1-0 defeat against Pekin on April 2.
Pekin also had a short-lived lead against Canton. The Dragons were up 1-0 after 2 1/2 innings, but the Little Giants scored twice in the bottom of the third and once in the fourth and fifth.
Canton starter Clay Schroeder fanned 14 in five innings. He recorded 14 of 15 outs via the K. Pekin starter Bryson Swift also went five innings and struck out six.
“If we had cleaned things up defensively, we lose 2-1,” Davis said. “But that’s where the 16 strikeouts came in. We couldn’t put the ball in play.”
Skyler Coryell scored from third base on a throwing error by the Canton third baseman for Pekin’s lone run. Righi hit a grounder to third and raced all the way to third on the bad throw.
The Canton at Pekin game scheduled for Monday was postponed. It has been rescheduled for next Thursday.
The Dragons are scheduled to play to host to East Peoria next Monday and play at East Peoria next Wednesday in conference games.
BOYS TENNIS: A forecast of rain Friday and Saturday caused the cancellation of the annual Pekin Invitational boys tennis tournament, which was supposed to be played Saturday.
The Dragons played twice earlier this week and lost 8-1 on Tuesday to host Morton in a Mid-Illini Conference match and 9-0 on Wednesday to visiting non-conference foe Bloomington.
Pekin’s lone win of the week was a big one for No. 1 singles player Brendan Guenther. He beat Morton’s Barik Olden 6-2, 5-7, 10-3.
“That’s the first time I’ve beaten him. He’s beaten me in doubles,” said Guenther, who is in his fourth year on the Pekin tennis team and his second year at No. 1 singles.
Guenther is 2-2 in singles this year. losing to Dunlap’s David Wu and Bloomington’s Adam Hanson in straight sets. Wu and Hanson are two of the top singles players in the area.
Next week, Guenther will sign to play soccer at Monmouth College.
“My main sports are hockey and soccer,” he said. “They’re played mostly during the fall and winter. I play tennis so I have a spring sport.”
The Pekin boys tennis team will play host to conference rival Washington next Tuesday.
GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD: The Pekin girls track and field team won three events Tuesday in a Mid-Illini Conference triangular meet at Morton.
Hope Watts won the 400 (1:05.92), Paige Arseneau won the 1600 (5:38.63) and Gabi Salazar won discus (104-9).
Morton scored 76 points. Canton had 64 and Pekin had 43.
The Dragons are scheduled to compete Saturday in the Rock Island ABC meet.
Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.