NORMAL — When Maddie Christiansen put a charge into Bailey Turner's pitch, the Normal West High School junior feared the worst "for a split second."
"Oh, God, I was so scared," said Turner. "But I trust Landy (Landes Benedict). She'll get it."
Benedict did indeed, catching Christiansen's attempt for a three-run homer near the top of the left field fence in the sixth inning. Turner took care of the rest, finishing with a three-hitter and nine strikeouts as West took a 2-0 victory over Bloomington in a snappy Big 12 Conference softball game at Maxwell Park.
"We rested her a lot last week and really limited her innings. We wanted her to be fresh this week," said West coach April Schermann of Turner, who improved to 9-1. "She was having shoulder issues, but she looked great today. I really think the rest and rehab helped."
Turner was dominant early, striking out seven in the first three innings. She snared a line drive from Mallory Stevenson for the final out in the 85-minute contest.
"I felt good today," said Turner. "The energy was high and the team was cheering me on."
West (12-3, 2-0) took a 1-0 lead in the first. Jess Jacobs' two-out bloop to right fell to score Benedict, who had singled and stole second.
The Wildcats added their other run off BHS freshman Ellie Vetter (2-10) in the third when Illinois State recruit Jaxynn Dyson smacked a solo homer to left. Jacobs followed with a long drive to center that the Purple Raiders' Danielle Shuey snared at the fence.
BHS (3-11, 1-2) got two runners on in the fourth before a Turner strikeout ended the threat. Brooke Grady walked and Ellie Vetter reached on a bunt single to start the sixth before Christiansen's long fly.
"I honestly couldn't tell" whether it was gone, said BHS coach Amber McGee. "I was hoping. We robbed one of theirs right at the fence. She wanted it. It's her senior year and it would been a great rivalry-type hit."
McGee was pleased with the adjustments her players made at the plate after seeing Turner the first time.
"They were a little more patient with the pitches. Early on we were anxious and chasing," said McGee. "She's got a nice rise ball and changeup. It was a weird game. We did not hit a single ground ball (other than Vetter's bunt). We were talking about how do you adjust if you do have a rise ball pitcher so those popups turn into nice hits."
Vetter allowed six hits while walking one and striking out four. Turner had two hits for the Wildcats.
"We didn't know what to expect," said Schermann of facing Vetter for the first time. "She did a good job with her change up to keep our hitters off balance and was mixing in rise balls and pitches in and out. We're happy with how things came together today."