Fenwick coach Mike Marresse planned on taking starting pitcher Jessica Mrozek out after three innings Saturday and bringing in ace Valerie Perrelli for the final four.
That plan went out the door when Mrozek took a no-hitter into the fifth and shortly thereafter the host Friars knocked Leyden out of the playoffs with a 4-0 victory in a Class 4A regional final.
Mrozek wound up throwing a four-hit shutout and drove in the game-winning run with an RBI double in the fourth inning for Fenwick (18-16), which will take on crosstown rival Oak Park-River Forest in a Trinity Sectional semifinal Wednesday.
The Friars generally don’t use a timeshare on the mound but Marresse has gone to it with success in the playoffs.
“He was going to split the time half and half just to give the teams two different looks so they couldn’t catch up,” said Mrozek, who walked one and struck out four. “I was keeping them off balance so he just decided to keep me in and see how far I could go. If I was going to get into trouble he was going to put Val in.”
The hard-throwing Perrelli, who played first base, wasn’t needed as Leyden (18-12) didn’t get a hit until Abby Grande’s one-out single in the fifth.
By that time the Friars had all the runs they needed. Perrelli led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and scored when Mrozek, the cleanup hitter, belted a double off of the right-field fence. Mrozek scored one out later on a double by Michelle Lang.
“Personally I feel like I do best when runners are on base because it gives me motivation to hit the ball,” Mrozek said. “I love it when girls are on base because then I have the opportunity to drive them in.”
Leyden had a couple opportunities in the final two innings. Singles by Jodi DuBrock and pitcher Kendall Duwal put the tying runs on with one out in the sixth, but Fenwick shortstop Ashley Parenti snagged a pair of line drives.
The Friars then pushed across two insurance runs. Parenti led off with a single, went to second on Lang’s sacrifice bunt and moved to third when Giselle Diaz beat out a bunt.
Parenti then scored on a wild pitch and Diaz later came around on a sacrifice fly by Natalie Cairo.
The Loyola-bound Parenti went 2-for-3 at the plate and made seven putouts, including three in the sixth and two in the seventh inning.
“Having her at short is like having an automatic out anywhere near her because she’ll dive for balls, she’ll break into the hole to get to the ball,” Mrozek said. “She’s so aggressive and she’ll give her all for every single play.”
Parenti returned the compliment.
“She’s been doing awesome lately,” Parenti said. “She’s been working through her back injury and she’s a really good player.”
“She had really good spin on her pitches,” Leyden coach Kurt Schuett said of Mrozek. “She wasn’t overpowering, but hit her spots. We hit the ball hard a couple times. It was just right at them.”