Lisle appeared on the verge of blowing its playoff game open from the first inning Thursday in Genoa.
Eventually the Lions did.
Lisle scored 4 runs in the top of the fifth inning and breezed from there to a 10-4 win over Mt. Assisi in a Class 2A Genoa-Kingston sectional semifinal.
Mackenzie Buchelt, who was 3-for-5, singled in a run to cap off the fifth-inning outburst. In the seventh Buchelt waited on a changeup — one of many slow pitches Lisle hitters saw from two relievers — and singled in 2 more runs.
“Their pitchers threw us off, and we weren’t getting the hits when we needed them,” Buchelt said, “and then we finally pulled it all together.”
Lisle (29-3), which won its 19th straight game, advances to play North Boone in an 11 a.m. Saturday sectional final. The Lions beat North Boone 6-0 in April in Byron. As a matter of fact, Lisle defeated each of its first four playoff opponents during the regular season.
Lions coach Jen Pomatto, though, is loathe to letting her girls look past any opponent.
“One of the things we talked about is we can only control what we do, and play our game,” Pomatto said. “We’re just taking it one pitch at a time.”
Lisle didn’t let high-gusting, dust-blowing winds become a factor in Thursday’s game, either. The winds did make any high flyball an adventure.
“You had to take extra precautions,” Lisle catcher Grace Riley said.
The Lions, who left 13 runners on base in their regional final win over Wheaton Academy, stranded 11 more Thursday. But they also showed a penchant for two-out hitting.
Lisle’s first four runs came with two outs, starting with Riley’s two-run single in the first inning.
“It’s important to never give up on an inning, to remain confident,” Riley said. “When teams see us get pumped up after a big hit it brings them down a little bit. It’s tougher for them to get back up after hits like that.”
It was still 4-2 through four innings before Lisle busted things open. Riley and Kristina Fernette singles started things, and Abby Tarasewicz squeezed in a run. Fernette and Tarasewicz came around to score on a throwing error — one of nine committed by Mt. Assisi (13-18) — before Buchelt’s infield single scored Summer Stitt.
Every Lisle starter reached base, with Melanie Early, Riley and Shelby Kretman each supplying 2 hits.
“It always seems like it’s somebody else picking us up,” Pomatto said. “I have faith in all of our girls.”
The four runs were the most Early (21-2) had allowed in a month — but she also buckled down in pressure spots. Early struck out nine, five of the strikeouts ending innings with runners on base.
“I don’t believe Mel had our ‘A’ game today, but she did what she needed to do to keep us in the game,” Pomatto said. “We made a couple miscues behind her, but our bats allowed us to overcome those.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.