NORMAL — For the record, Maddie Roop was not upset her University High School softball teammates failed to score a 10th run in the fifth inning against Bloomington at Fairview Park on Thursday.

However, teammate Addie Steward, whose three-run home run in the sixth inning made the Pioneers 12-0 winners, had fun telling the media, "The last inning, Maddie was pretty mad because we didn't get 10 runs, so I knew I had to go up there and do something.

"I saw the pitch and I just trusted myself and took it (over the fence in left center)."

After explaining that Steward was joking, Roop (3-1) summarized her four-hit, five-strikeout, two-walk pitching as a solid effort.

"I progressed over the summer and I work every day to get better," she said. "That's really my goal."

Steward, who finished with two hits and four runs batted in, says the team goal is nothing less than the Class 3A state title, which isn't unreasonable considering the Pioneers (5-1) went 24-11 last season to reach the Elite Eight.  

If U High gets that far or farther, Coach Al Toliver will point to the contributions of many as the reason. In a game moved from BHS due to wet grounds, nine Pioneers had at least one hit and five drove in runs.

"It's kind of been like that all year," he said. "Anywhere in the order, we can be pretty effective."

Defensively, U High committed just one error despite the 40-degree chill. Of the Purple Raiders' six base runners, one was caught in a run down at third and another was doubled off second.

"The defense was very solid again," said Toliver, whose previous wins all came in five innings.

Steward's first homer of the season off freshman reliever Avery Wapp came after Elena Rolley and Emily O'Leary had doubled and singled, respectively.

"Addie put a good stroke on that one," Toliver said. "She's got a really nice swing, a quick swing. She gets a lot of power behind it."

O'Leary finished with two of U High's 11 hits, including an RBI triple in the fourth inning. That six-run stanza included a two-run double by Jen Kuhn.

In the game's first at-bat, Abby Knight tripled and later scored on Makaylea Sepich's single. In the second inning, O'Leary walked and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Brooke Cordray.

U High nearly made the 10-run rule deadline when Lana Williams doubled to open the fifth inning and advanced on a wild pitch before making it 9-0 on Steward's ground out.

BHS coach Amber McGee, who saw freshman starting pitcher Ellie Vetter (0-2) fan five and walk four in 3⅔ innings, was impressed by the Pioneers.

"(Roop) is a solid pitcher," McGee said. "Her change-up looked great. She kept our girls guessing for sure."

As for her young 0-2 team, McGee wants them to focus on the positives ahead of Saturday's spring break tournament in Tennessee.

"Tonight, we put the bat on the ball a lot better compared to last game (a 5-0 loss to Washington)," she said. "The last game, we struck out a lot more."

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Contact Randy Sharer at (309) 820-3405. Follow him on Twitter: @PG_sharer



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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