The biggest threat North Ottowa poses, according to Kelley, is the team’s strength from the mound. The Michigan team’s star pitcher, Leah Vaughan, struck out 12 batters Sunday in a 10-3 win against Freeport, Ill. After her team fell behind early 2-0, Vaughan proved to be the backbone for North Ottowa, giving her teammates time to get their bats going before an eight-run fourth inning put the game out of reach.
Kelley said his girls have to swing aggressively in the batter’s box against Vaughan and try to stay ahead in the count to keep North Ottowa’s pitcher on her toes. If Riverfield can do that, Kelley thinks his team has more than a fighting chance.
“Anybody can be rattled if you start getting to them and put the bat on it,” he said. “You can’t sit up there and let her throw strikes without swinging your bat. When you get down in the count, and she’s got control of the count, then she can throw pitches she wants. She doesn’t have to throw strikes, and then you start chasing.
“If we’re aggressive and put our bats on it early, that’ll help us get to her a bit and also help us try to control her rather than her control us with the count.”
Through three days of the tournament, Riverfield can still control its own destiny toward a spot in the semis with wins against North Ottowa and Freeport to close out pool play.
A loss today would mean Kelley’s team would have to take down Freeport on Wednesday, then root for North Ottowa to beat Appleton later in the day – assuming the Wisconsin team beats an 0-3 Webb City team today – and then pull out a tiebreaker against Freeport and Appleton.