Not much gets by Antioch softball coach Anthony Rocco.
Prior to taking the Sequoits job, he's seen plenty of softball in all seasons. And he knew coming in to Tuesday's North Suburban Prairie Division contest at Vernon Hills that the home-standing Cougars had three players to watch out for.
That included Jordyn Comitor, Megan Meline and Jenn Claussen. All three of those players played a part in his team's demise, but it was a player not on his scouting report that ended his team's day.
Carly Alm's two-out opposite field single drove home freshman Tori Smith with the winning run with two outs in the seventh inning as the Cougars overcame a late Antioch lead to post a 4-3 win.
"My team was cheering me on,'' Alm said. "I've never been a big hitter. But it was an outside pitch and I wanted to bring Tori home."
The Cougars (11-6) rallied for this win following a tough loss at Grant on Monday.
"This is a nice win,'' said Vernon Hills coach Steve Korney. "We were down a couple of runs but we've fought all year to come back in the late innings."
Neither team was shy at the plate to open this contest.
Vernon Hills ace Megan Meline made her first start of the season following a hamstring injury. The senior struck out six in her three innings but surrendered a pair of walks to open her outing and both scored on a ringing double by third baseman Kaylene Ressler.
"A couple more feet and that ball might have gone over,'' Rocco said.
Vernon Hills got a run back in the home half of the first as Comitor's sacrifice fly brought home speedy catcher Sam Freibrun, who had singled.
Antioch's prized catcher, Amber Mysliwiec, headed to Judson University for more softball next year, doubled in Hannah Skoog with the third Antioch run in the third inning. She also singled and lined out.
Korney is well aware of this player's talents.
"Amber hits the ball hard,'' Korney said. "She's such an aggressive catcher. She's not afraid to try and pick someone off. She works really hard."
In the meantime, Antioch pitcher Katie Phillips was keeping the Vernon Hills offense at bay. She retired nine Cougars in a row in one stretch and nursed her 2-run lead with one out in the sixth.
A walk to Comitor started the trouble. Meline scooted a hit to center setting the stage for winning pitcher Claussen. After she had fanned twice against Phillips, Claussen slammed a ball to the gap chasing home Comitor.
Meline's baserunning skills played a part in scoring the tying run. Senior Anya Mollenhauer bounced a ball back to Phillips. She looked back Meline and then threw out Mollenhauer. Meline raced home and beat the tag of Mysliwiec to knot the game up at 3-3.
"We didn't execute,'' Rocco said. "We didn't get our bunts down."
For Vernon Hills it was another game of late-inning magic.
"We are learning from our mistakes,'' Alm said. "We are really improving in every practice."