Hurley pitches, Harper powers Mohawk

PHOTO BY ZACH BAKER Mohawk’s MaKenna Hurley gets ready to pitch as third baseman Aubrie Harper looks on in Sycamore Thursday

SYCAMORE — The way Mohawk has been hitting recently, it probably doesn’t need great pitching.

But it never hurts to get it, especially come postseason time.

Makenna Hurley was rolling in the Division IV district quarterfinals Tuesday against Wynford in Sycamore. The junior retired the first 10 batters she faced, then limited the Royals to one run on five hits while striking out six in five innings.

The Warriors offense made sure that was all she needed to pitch. It banged out 19 hits against Wynford starter Hannah Messmer, one of which was Aubrie Harper’s second home run in as many days, as Mohawk run-ruled the Royals 11-1.

With the victory, Mohawk improved to 16-9 and will advance to Tuesday’s district semis at Shelby. The Warriors will face the winner of Monroeville-Norwalk St. Paul, which is scheduled for today.

Walton said she expected to face Monroeville, and that it would probably be tough.

“We know that,” Walton said. “(Monroeville) has played Mohawk a couple times in the past and have gotten beaten by us, so I’m sure they’re out for the win as well.”

Thursday’s game was scoreless through the first inning and a half, until Mohawk hit three singles to load the bases with one out in the second. Jordan Tyree broke the stalemate with a sacrifice fly to center.

That 1-0 lead held until the third, when the Warriors added three runs. Tess Weinandy and Lauren Moyer each had RBI singles in the inning, while Marah Gillig had an RBI double.

“It took a couple innings to get (Wynford starter Hannah Messmer) timed up and get our barrel on the (ball),” Walton said, “but once we did that I thought we were pretty strong through our lineup.”

That was shown in the fourth, when the Warriors batted around and scored five runs.

The inning started when Paityn Clouse singled, and then Harper followed with a blast to left, making it 6-1.

Harper finished 2 for 4 with two runs. The homer was her eighth of the season, and her second in about 24 hours. She homered Wednesday against Seneca East.

“She’s been working her butt off,” Walton said. “She was in a little slump there for a little while, and she’s really been coming through in situations. She had a home run tonight, and she puts the time in outside of practice as well, and you can tell that when she steps in the box.”

The Warriors led 9-1 after five innings, and then essentially walked off when Tess Weinandy hit a two-run single to center in the fifth, enacting the 10-run rule.

Weinandy had a brilliant day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with three RBIs, Clouse added three hits and scored twice, while Gillig had three hits, including a double, two runs and two RBIs. Tyree also doubled and drove in two runs.

Messmer took the loss, with all 11 runs being earned. She struck out three and walked one in four innings.

Wynford coach Jamee Burke said Messmer did some good work against some of Mohawk’s better hitters, like leadoff batter Madi Chester, who was limited to one hit in four at-bats.

But the rest of the lineup stepped up.

“Hannah threw well against their best hitters, but kudos to the bottom of their lineup for stepping up for them today,” she said.

It was Wynford’s Alli Scott who broke up Hurley’s perfect game bid with one out in the fourth, ripping a ground-rule double to left. Two batters later, Paige Rex ended the shutout with a sharp RBI single.

But other than that, Hurley was terrific.

Burke said Wynford (5-13) had not seen much of Hurley in the two games the teams played during the regular season.

“We’ve seen Clouse,” Burke said. “We’ve only seen Hurley for, I think, two innings … so we were used to Clouse, so them throwing Hurley was kind of a different look for us. She has a little bit more (velocity), and little bit different spins off of the ball, so that forced those ground balls.”

“MaKenna has just really been on it,” Walton said.

And now, Mohawk is on to the next round.