Sophomore Loganne Stepp had no idea the team from Chicago she had just no-hit was ranked No. 2 in the nation until after pitching Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) to a 3-0 victory Thursday afternoon.
Marist (Chicago), in town for the Desert Mountain Softball Invitational, entered the game ranked No. 15 in the Super 25 and No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps.
This was the Illinois power’s season opener.
Hamilton was playing its 12th game and trying to reestablish itself after going 3-3 in a tournament last weekend in Bullhead City.
“I just stepped in,” said Stepp, who was a a Freshman All-American last season. “I didn’t focus on where they were from and who they were. I just decided to do what I always do.”
And that is sit down batters.
She used a combination of a riser and a curve and wasn’t afraid to throw her change-up on 3-2 counts to get Marist batters leaning and guessing.
This was the healthiest Stepp has been this season.
“She’s been sick all year,” coach Rocky Parra said.
Parra said his team has been struggling.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves,” he said.
In Bullhead City, Hamilton played all out-of-state competition, but, after getting to the top eight of that loaded field, the Huskies lost to Huntington Beach (Calif.) Marina (9-7), Chino Hills, Calif. (4-1) and Villa Park, Calif. (8-7).
“We could have won any of those,” Parra said. “Right now, we’re going to get better and better.”
Hamilton had no time to celebrate a win over a top team in the country.
Right after the win, it had to face 5A Arizona power Ironwood Ridge (Oro Valley, Ariz.)
However, Parra said the win over Marist “meant a lot,” to see who can earn playing time.
Stepp got help in the third inning when the Huskies scored all of their runs after loading the bases with one out. Catcher Macy Simmons drew a bases-loaded walk. Lorena Vasquez-Inzunza was hit by a pitch, driving in another run. And Sierra Meyers drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.
Early national rankings, Parra said, “are hard to tell.”
“You stay there until you lose your first game,” he said.
Parra doesn’t expect the win to launch his 7-5 team into the Top 25 in the nation.
“We’ve got too many losses,” he said. “They’re quality losses. But you know what, I don’t care where we’re at. I just want to win the last game of the year.”