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Burrell softball rallies past Freeport

Kehley Shank | for the Leader Times
Burrell's Becca Wilhelm attempts to tag out Freeport's Kristie Radvan at second base Monday, March 31, 2014, in Freeport.

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Monday, March 31, 2014, 10:48 p.m.

Freeport's bats started out hot, but Burrell's kept connecting to the finish.

The Bucs scored four runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to come out on top in a high-scoring Section 3-AA matchup, 14-8, at Freeport on Monday.

Melissa Mazzei was a triple short of the cycle and drove in three runs from the No. 9 spot in the batting order, and Haley Kuzmirek also homered for Burrell (2-1, 2-1). Jessica Kelley led Freeport (0-1, 0-1) with a home run, two doubles and three runs scored.

The Yellowjackets led after two innings, 7-3, but Burrell cut the margin to 8-7 at the end of four innings. The Bucs scored seven unanswered runs from that point, as winning pitcher Krista York got an almost-flawless defensive effort behind her against a Freeport team that was putting balls into play.

“I've got to say that we persevered today,” Burrell coach Mike Spagnolo said. “With this short fence out here, we knew there were going to be a lot of runs scored, and we've been struggling to get runs. We had to play defense, and we started to settle in after we weren't doing it for the first couple of innings.”

Freeport came to bat the first time trailing, 2-0, but a two-run single by Kristie Radvan and an RBI groundout by Kristen Karcher put the Yellowjackets ahead, 3-2.

Mazzei tied the game with her solo shot in the second, but Freeport kept the offense coming with a two-run single by Karlie Hill and RBI hits from Alyssa Ravotti and Karcher, which gave Freeport its largest lead, 7-3.

“That's the first game we've played, and I'm happy with what I've seen today,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “Some days the balls drop in for you, and some days they don't. I thought we hit the ball pretty well.”

Burrell began to chip away at the lead in the third, and the Bucs tied the game in the top of the fourth on an RBI bunt single by Alaina York. Kelley homered for Freeport in the bottom half of the inning, but the Yellowjackets failed to score again with the bases loaded and one out.

The Bucs took the lead on back-to-back RBI groundouts in the sixth by Abby Nitowski and Alaina York, and Kuzmirek's homer helped increase the margin to 11-8 during the inning. A two-run single by Nitowski in the seventh increased the advantage while Krista York shut the door with help of a series of good catches by Nitowski in center and Ashley Szymkowiak in right field.

“We played Deer Lakes last week, and we didn't field the ball and gave up two five-run innings,” Spagnolo said. “Today, we started to field the ball, and we put it in play to make them play defense. That let us get into our game, which is running the bases.”

Kelley pitched 5 23 innings and took the loss for Freeport, while Radvan, a freshman, finished in relief.

The Yellowjackets this season have just three seniors, one of whom, shortstop Alexis Roenigk, missed the opening game with a concussion. Two freshmen and two sophomores started Monday's game, and Ross hopes his young players will continue coming into their own in the varsity lineup, especially in a week with four games scheduled.

“One game doesn't make the season. I'm not too worried about this one; we're going to move on,” Ross said.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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