ROXANA — The Marquette Catholic Explorers were left bewildered on Wednesday after the Shells bounced back from a six-run deficit on their home field to steal a 12-6 victory.
The Shells improved to 14-16, led by Elizabeth Rexford and Cindy Scroggins. They each had three hits and scored three runs, while Scroggins drove in four to boot. The Explorers dipped to 20-7 after playing their fourth game in five days.
Marquette took an early lead over the Shells in the second inning, kicked off with a single by Grace Frost. Megan Wittich then cracked a RBI double to get the Explorers on the board and later made her way across the plate to put Marquette up 2-0.
The Explorers backed it up in the third inning with consecutive singles from Sam Harshbarger, Meghan Schorman and Frost. Kalie Buecker cleared the bags with a three-run double to left center to put the Explorers up 5-0. Miranda Schroeder then climbed aboard with a single to score Buecker to end the top of the third with Marquette pushing its lead to 6-0 over the Shells.
Roxana wasn't fazed. The Shells kicked off the bottom of the third inning with the top of the order.
Hannah and Elizabeth Rexford were joined by Abby Palen to load the bases for senior Cindy Scroggins. With a swing of the bat, the Shells had two runs and two runners on the bags with Palen and Scroggins on first and third. Phoebe Booher followed with a hit, bringing Palen home to cut the Explorers' lead in half at 6-3.
Shelby Jackson joined in with a single, scoring Scroggins and Booher to close the gap to 6-5. Lindsey Scroggins then brought Jackson in on a single to tie the game at 6-6.
"We work really hard and have become good at coming back when we're down," Palen said. "The beginning of the season we had a bad habit of getting down when we fell behind. We've really worked on hitting and I think people are spending more time working outside of the game and we're getting better. We keep our energy up. If I slow down I tire. I think when we keep it going, we forget about being tired and keep pushing."
After the Shells shut down the Explorers in the top of the fourth, Roxana pushed past Marquette with runs by Elizabeth Rexford, Palen and Cindy Scroggins to take a 9-6 lead. Booher reached, but was left on third after Schorman shut down the Shells from the circle with back-to-back strikeouts.
Roxana senior Elizabeth Rexford crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth off a triple by Palen which sparked a pitching change for the Explorers. Palen made an attempt for an inside-the-park home run, but was caught at the plate by Frost. Wittich took over in the circle for Marquette to put the inning to rest with a one run gain for the Shells to put Roxana up 10-6.
Chants from the Roxana dug out kept the Shells fired up with renewed vitality.
"These girls are a fun group to be around," Roxana head coach Mike Arbuthnot said. "They are so coachable and they all like each other and get along well. They really pull for each other on the field."
The Shells had one more blast of offensive energy in the sixth to finish the Explorers' day. Cindy Scroggins led off for Roxana and was joined by Jackson to have two on with one out. Samantha Sherer logged the RBI on a swing that scored Jackson, pushing the final score to 12-6.
"In the last three weeks we have played around 21 games," Arbuthnot said. "We haven't had a day off to practice. I'm really so proud of these kids because I know they're tired, I know they're fatigued. It's been a long three weeks. Being down 6-0 to a team like Marquette and being down to one of the top pitchers in the area, their performance says a lot about our kids. They stayed the course and didn't quit. I've been proud of them all year, but I stand here overwhelmed with the effort that they're giving me."
Explorers' head coach Dan Wiedman knows first hand that they shouldn't count a team out, no matter what the score. Marquette erased a five-run lead in the seventh inning on Saturday against Peoria Notre Dame to take a 9-7 victory in the Edwardsville Tournament.
"We didn't play the ballgame today the way we're supposed to play," Wiedman said. "We had some issues that carried over on to the ball field and just were not ready to play ball. We got up 6-0 and our defense made some mistakes and let them back in the game. As an entire team, composure wise, we fell apart and there is no excuse for what happened today."
The Shells will take Thursday off before heading to Carlinville to face the Cavaliers at 5 p.m. Friday The Explorers head to Quincy on Saturday for the Quincy Notre Dame Cluster.
ROXANA 12, MARQUETTE 6
MARQUETTE 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 — 6 6 3
ROXANA 0 0 6 3 1 2 X — 12 17 1
ROXANA (14-16) — Hannah Rexford 2-4 1 run RBI, Elizabeth Rexford 3-4 3 runs 2 RBI, Abby Palen 3-3 walk 3RBI, Cindy Scroggins 3-4 3 runs 4RBI, Pheobe Booher 2-4 1 run 2RBI, Shelby Jackson 2-4 2 run RBI
WP — Hannah Rexford: 6IP, 3K, 1BB, 5H, 6ER
MARQUETTE (20-7) — Sam Harshbarger 1-4 run, Meghan Schorman 1-4 run RBI, Grace Frost 2-3 2 run RBI, Kalie Buecker 1-3 1 run 3RBI, Megan Wittich 1-3 1 run RBI.
LP — Meghan Schorman: 5.1IP, 7K, 2BB, 13H, 9ER
Megan Wittich 1.1IP, 1K, 4H, 1BB, 4H, 2ER