O’Fallon senior Addie Barnouski singled home a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, then pitched around bases loaded with Belleville West Maroons, to help the Panthers keep pace in a tight Southwestern Conference race.
O’Fallon defeated West, 5-1, to improve to 12-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
“If we can string our hits together more, that would help us,” said Barnouski, isolating what she sees as key to the balance of the Panthers’ season. “We get hits, but we don’t always string them together to score runs. If we can do that, we’ll get some more conference wins and win more games in general.”
The offense came in steaks Tuesday with O’Fallon getting to West starter Izzy Holtrop with two in the first, one in the third and two on Barnouski’s timely single in the sixth.
Holtrop was otherwise solid, allowing just five hits while striking out six. But the Maroons, 7-12, lost their third straight and sixth out of their last seven.
“Sometimes the hitting is there or the fielding is there, but we just can’t get them both at the same time,” said West senior Olivia Young, who had one hit and saved a run with a shoestring catch in shallow right field in the third . “If we can ever put it together, I think we can be a force to contend with. Until then, we have to figure a couple of things out.”
O’Fallon scored a pair of unearned runs in the first before Caroline Keller drove home a single run in the third to make it 3-0. Barnouski gave the Panthers insurance in the sixth with a single that scored Ginger Huskey and Katie Moore.
Barnouski and her defense were stingy throughout. West managed five base runners through the first six innings, just two on hits by sophomore Allyson Winkelman and Young.
But Alyssa James led off the Maroons’ seventh with a single and later scored on an RBI single by Kiri Evans. Megan Glaeser walked and Young reached on an a check-swing hit through the hole at third to load the bases.
“I play with Olivia in summer ball and every time she comes up to bat she makes me nervous because I know she’s a good hitter,” Barnouski said. “I just knew I had to trust my defense.”
She didn’t really need the defense. Barnouski struck out the side to end the West threat and the game.
Barnouski held the Maroons to four hits, while striking out four and walking four.
Moore, Cassie Brown and Allison Underwood had hits for O’Fallon in addition to Barnouski’s two singles.
O’Fallon will be at Dupo on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. West plays at Althoff on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.