LOWELL — Kankakee Valley remained in the hunt for a Northwest Crossroads Conference softball title by handing host Lowell a 3-1 loss on Monday, April 26.
The Kougars improve to 4-1 in league play and 8-4 overall. It was their third straight win.
KV gave ace pitcher MaryKate Shultz all the offense she would need with two runs in the first inning. The Kougars added a single run in the third and turned the game over to Shultz, who scattered five hits over seven innings with 16 strikeouts and two walks.
Lowell’s run was unearned.
Shultz also helped her cause by going 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles. Carly Basham had an RBI single and JoJo Short had a two-run double in the first inning.
Abigail Porch and Carlye Walter had doubles for the Red Devils. Walter had a solid outing in the circle, allowing four hits and two earned runs over seven innings. She struck out 12 and walked four.
Here is a rundown of KV’s finishes over the past 10 days:
• 11-0 win in five innings vs. Griffith on April 22 — Shultz almost single-handily took down the Panthers, hitting a pair of three-run home runs — including a walk-off homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to end the game under the 10-run rule — and tossing six scoreless innings. The KV senior was 3 for 3 with two runs scored and six RBIs and allowed just two hits with 15 strikeouts in the circle. She did walk a batter. Other offensive stars included Elyse Starr with a pair of hits and an RBI and RBI doubles by Short, Carmen Rosado and Basham. Rosado and Basham had two hits each. Ashley Shepherd had a double for Griffith, which falls to 8-4.
• 5-1 win vs. Mishawaka on April 17 — The Kougars snapped a three-game slide by beating Mishawaka (3-4) at home. Shultz had another strong outing, allowing no earned runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts and a walk. She joined battery mate Abbi Wilhelm with a team-best two hits; Wilhelm had an RBI. Rosado added an RBI double and Lexi Broyles had an RBI single. Mady Peterson also had a hit.
• 10-0 loss vs. Lake Central on April 17 — One of the nation’s top ranked softball teams and the No. 1 team in Indiana, Lake Central improved to 9-0 with a five-inning shutout vs. KVHS in a tournament game at St. John. The Indians scored four runs in the fourth inning to make a quick exit by the 10-run rule. The Kougars managed three hits, with Hayley Alexander, Peterson and Broyles collecting singles. Starr got the start in the circle, allowing 10 runs on 12 hits over four innings. She struck out three and walked two.
• 16-0 loss vs. Franklin Central on April 17 — The Kougars opened the tournament at Lake Central against a strong Flashes squad, losing by the 10-run rule. Franklin — which would lose in the tournament’s championship game by a 1-0 final to Lake Central — had a 13-run second inning to blow the game open. Brenna Fink had a grand slam home run for the Flashes, who had nine hits against the KV duo of Rosado and Broyles. KV managed two hits, with Alexander collecting a double and Basham adding a single.
• 3-2 loss vs. Highland on April 16 — KVHS suffered its first and only league loss to this point at Highland. The Trojans snapped a 2-2 tie with a single run in the bottom of the sixth inning to pick up the victory and improve to 9-2 overall and 3-1 in NCC play. They got the winning run against Shultz, who followed up her perfect game win against Andrean two days earlier by scattering nine hits over six innings with five strikeouts and three walks. Hannah Wieklinski had two doubles and two RBIs for the winners and Ava Leffel and Mia Rivera had two hits each. The Kougars managed four hits, including an RBI single by Wilhelm and singles by Peterson, Short and Broyles. Winning pitcher Breanna Burbridge allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and five walks over five innings. Rivera struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief.