There's really only one word to describe the moment.
Cary-Grove defeated Prairie Ridge 3-1 Monday afternoon in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division softball game in Cary.
But when an 0-1 pitch in the top of the fourth inning from Cary-Grove senior standout Lindsay Efflandt came off the bat of Prairie Ridge senior Kirsten Stevens, Efflandt's good friend and summer teammate, and hit Efflandt flush in the face, the emotions of the game between the District 155 rivals changed immediately.
But after several minutes face down in the pitchers circle, Efflandt asked for Stevens to come out to the field. Still down, with her parents, coaches and PR coach Mike Buck at her side, and the full extent of her injuries still unknown, Efflandt reportedly said to Stevens, "nice hit."
That created some laughter from the nervous circle and relieved the tension a bit for the crowd that was standing in stunned silence.
Efflandt, a Yale recruit, was able to eventually walk off the field on her own, and was taken to the hospital for treatment and X-rays.
"You never want to see anyone get hurt," said Cary-Grove coach Tammy Olson, still visibly upset after the game. "She was very with it coming off the field so we'll just have to wait to see what the doctors have to say."
"That was a scary situation," said Buck "It was hard for everybody. You hate to see anyone get hurt like that. (Cary-Grove) did a nice job of keeping their composure."
No Trojan did that more than junior Lauren Stanley, Cary-Grove's No. 2 pitcher who was pressed into unexpected duty when Efflandt (9-0) had to leave the game. After walking two and allowing the Wolves (9-2, 2-1) a run in the fifth, Stanley went six up, six down through the heart of PR's order in the sixth and seventh innings to earn a save she'll never forget.
"I was pretty shook up but I knew I had to be strong and pull through for Lindsay and my team," said Stanley. "I knew my team was there for me with their defense and behind me with emotional support. We've got a strong team and we're all there for each other."
"Lauren stepped it up and I'm so proud of her," said Olson. "She came in and did her job. Lauren's a junior who has been waiting in the wings and she came in and did a nice job."
The Trojans (11-0, 3-0) took a 1-0 lead off Mercer recruit Stevens in the second inning. Senior Sarah Leudo (3-for-3) stroked a one-out single to right-center field, went to second on an error on Grace Pilz's grounder then, with two outs, went to third and scored when the Wolves made a throwing error on Caitlyn Adams' grounder.
Cary-Grove added 2 runs in the third. Junior Lisa Semro led off with a double and scored on Jamie Deering's two-out single. Deering, who took second on the throw home, then scored on a Leudo single up the middle.
And until Stevens' liner dropped Efflandt, the Wolves had been able to do nothing against the Cary-Grove star, who didn't allow a hit and struck out 9 in the 4 innings she pitched. Even Stevens' liner went for an out -- the third out of the inning -- when it caromed off Efflandt directly to first baseman Sarah Kendeigh.
Kendeigh would then alertly put an end to PR's threat against Stanley in the fifth. PR loaded the bases and scored when Sarah Roloff's two-out infield single plated Maddie Drain, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Kendeigh then caught Claire Bowman off second base and instead of the Wolves having the bases loaded and their No. 3 hitter up, Cary-Grove was out of the inning.
The Wolves failed to get another runner on base against Stanley.
"I'm very proud of our entire team," said Olson. "When your No. 1 pitcher goes down like that you wonder how they'll come back and compete, I'm also very proud of Prairie Ridge's kids. When something like that happens it's very hard for everybody to come back and compete."