Drishs heroic effort stops Elk Grove
Elk Grove catcher Devin Parkison tries to tag Moline runner Emily Rache as she scores the go-ahead run in the eighth inning during the Class 4A softball third-place game.
Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer
Babe Ruth. Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle.
Those are a few of Moline shortstop Brittny Drish's favorite baseball players.
In the most dramatic moment of Saturday's Class 4A third-place game, the longtime New York fan looked like she took a page out of the book of Derek Jeter, another one of her Yankee favorites.
Elk Grove all-stater Dani Goranson appeared to have a bases-loaded single headed up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and her team down by 2 runs.
However, Drish dove to her left for a backhand stab, then flipped the ball out of her glove to second baseman Shelby Blair just in the nick of time for the force out to finish off a 4-2 victory.
Drish has practiced the play many times but never pulled it off in a high school game.
It was quite a send-off for the senior's next career at Illinois State.
"Honestly, I thought (Goranson's grounder) was through and we had at least 1 run with Devan (Parkison) coming up," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. "But I saw her make a few other impressive plays earlier in the game, so I wasn't surprised."
Grens senior first baseman Becca Walz was quite impressed.
"Oh my God, I was talking to Becca (Maher, Grens second baseman) about that play and saying how we wouldn't even have thought about flipping the ball to second (with the glove). I said 'I'd make the stop, get up and say 'let's get the next batter.' "
The top batters for the Grens on Saturday were Goranson (2-for-5) and junior Elisa Payne (2-for-3).
Elk Grove (31-10) took a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Payne tagged up at second base on Devan Parkison's fly out to right and ended up scoring on an error on the play.
The Grens made it 2-0 in the sixth when Maher led off with a single to left. She came home with two outs when Krista Soesbe reached on an error.
Down to their last chance in the seventh, the Maroons started the inning with 4 consecutive hits, including a 2-run single by cleanup hitter Jordon de los Reyes.
But Goranson (25-9) forced the Maroons to strand two runners by getting the next batters on a popup to the mound, a popout to second baseman Maher and a fly out to left.
Moline (31-11) got its winning runs in the top of the eighth after two outs.
Emily Rasche singled and came home on an outfield error. Drish then singled to left-center, scoring Kaitlyn Knary for the 4-2 margin.
Villanova-bound Carly Danek started the Grens' eighth with a single to right.
But sophomore pitcher Alaina Hoffman (18-4) got the next two batters on infield pop-ups.
Walz kept the Grens alive with an infield followed by Payne's clutch single to center setting the stage for Goranson's final at-bat.
"Dani went up there knowing what she had to do and she did it," Danek said. "It was just a heck of a play by their shortstop. It happens. Dani pitched two great games for us down here and we played with a lot of energy."
Danek called it a great time.
"One of our mottos this season was 'play one, win one, as one' and everything we did was as a team. That's the thing I am going to remember."
Walz, Goranson, Parkison, Payne, Krista Soesbe, Megan Keegan and Andrea Starr were all here in 2010 when the Grens also took third.
"Oh my gosh, I was so proud to be a part of this team," said Walz, who will play at St. Olaf in Minnesota. "I couldn't have pictured my season ending any other way than here."
Goranson struck out seven in her final game of a four-year career, finishing with more than 300 strikeouts.
"It's going to be hard not playing with Dani anymore," said Parkison, who will continue her career at the University of Chicago. "After we got that first run, I thought for sure we were going to go out as winners. I know you shouldn't feel that way but it was just kind of eerie. I just felt like we had it."
Moline had other ideas in the final two innings.
"We had a lot of scoring chances," said Grams, whose team collected 11 hits after going hitless for the first 5 innings of its semifinal loss to state champion Marist a day earlier. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
"We told the girls they've got to realize how difficult it is to get here and what it takes to do it and that they accomplished it."
Moline has now accomplished two firsts, two seconds and two thirds in coach Mark Gerlach's 13 seasons.
Drish was part of both third-place finishes. The one in 2010 was shared with Elk Grove because the third-place game had to be canceled due to rain.
When Moline won the state championship game last year 9-8 over St. Charles North, Drish belted a grand slam.
This season, she helped the Maroons get another third-place trophy with her glove.
"That's just the natural instincts she has," Gerlach said of the game-winning play that involved each team's stars.
"It was neat to have Dani come up there with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth," Grams said. "Dani would have wanted it that way."
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