OSWEGO – It's no coincidence that Megan Maruna was squaring up Alyssa Dyhr's pitches all game Thursday.
They have a history.
Maruna, an Oswego senior, faced the Plainfield East pitcher quite a bit in travel ball growing up. The two frequently met up in tournament championships.
"I knew going into this that I kind of had her," said Maruna, a Wisconsin Eau-Claire commit. "I said 'I'm going to get this pitcher.'"
Oh, she got her.
Maruna crushed the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning for a walk-off homer to straight center, giving Oswego a dramatic 3-2 win in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
Maruna's leadoff walk started Oswego's two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, to force extra innings.
And then she finished things.
"I knew she'd been trying to go inside on me and jam me, so I was looking for that pitch," said Maruna, whose homer was her third this year. "It worked out."
It also made a winner of Oswego senior Annie Scaramuzzi, who was sharp in her third pitching appearance after Tommy John surgery in November.
Scaramuzzi relieved Nicolette Evans with two outs in the fifth and Oswego (5-3, 2-3) trailing 2-0, and threw 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief. She struck out eight, walked one and allowed one hit.
"It felt awesome," said Scaramuzzi, a Missouri-St. Louis recruit. "I'm so excited to be back. Anything I can do to help the team, I will do it. I was feeding off their energy."
Neither team mustered much offensively early.
Evans didn't allow a baserunner until Jessica Bulanda's leadoff single in the fifth. Dyhr retired the first 10 batters she faced.
Plainfield East finally broke through in the fifth, on Katelyn Lamm's two-run homer to center.
Oswego struggled to make solid contact off of Dyhr – except for Maruna. She hit a wicked liner that was grabbed by the third baseman in the first, and singled for Oswego's first hit in the fourth.
She resisted the urge to be overaggressive with her walk in the seventh.
"I knew I wanted to crush the ball, I was seeing it really well, but I didn't want to risk it too much and pop it up or something," Maruna said. "I wanted to make sure it was my pitch."
One out later Graci Olson singled, the runners taking second and third on the throw. Evans brought both home, drilling a double that went off the fence in right.
It was a much-needed lift for the Panthers, who had been shut out in SPC play by both Plainfield Central and Plainfield North.
"I commend the girls for fighting all the way to the end," Oswego coach Sara Polensky said. "That's something we've talked about from day one is having that fight, that never-say-die attitude."
So, too, was the pick-me-up of getting Scaramuzzi back on the mound.
She's had to adapt a little bit since coming back from the elbow injury, but Scaramuzzi showcased a wicked changeup to get several Plainfield hitters.
"My changeup has always been of my better pitches; it's always come naturally to me," Scaramuzzi said. "My speed had taken a little bit to come back to where it was. I'm not overpowering hitters as much as I was before so I'm really working on spinning the ball, working on my rise and screw this year."
It's the longest outing of the year, all in relief, for Scaramuzzi, who made her debut this year April 3 against Minooka.
Polensky is inspired to see her back.
"Annie's work ethic is tremendous," Polensky said. "If I could instill her work ethic into every kid I ever coached, it would be great. She is another kid, like Megan, that knows what she wants and goes after it with everything she's got."