Whidden's game-winner lifts Rolling Meadows
Senior Hannah Whidden and freshman Kika Mahoe played the corners of the Rolling Meadows infield on Saturday morning against Hersey.
Although the first baseman and third baseman are four years apart in years, they were well-connected in the bottom the 10th inning.
Whidden's two-out drive to the left field corner drove home Mahoe from second base for the winning run in the Mustangs' 2-1 Mid-Suburban League victory.
It was the first game-winning hit for Whidden in her 2½-year varsity career.
"I guess I was due for a hit," said Whidden, the Mustangs' first baseman who caught 2 putouts on assists from third baseman Mahoe. "It felt good. I had popped out the time before so I was trying to hit it the ball on the ground."
Instead, Whidden's blast sailed over the left fielder's head and gave Meadows a 12-11 record and 3-8 in the MSL East.
It also gave senior Sara Brunlieb (9-10) the win after a terrific pitcher's duel with Hersey senior Rachel Fang, who also pitched 5 innings in a 5-2 win at Wheeling less than 24 hours earlier.
"Hannah was due for that hit — we all knew she could do it," Brunlieb said of her fellow senior. "It was just her believing she could do it. "Our team like to makes things difficult. We definitely needed this win for a confidence booster. Hopefully, it will jump start us."
Mahoe jump-started the 10th with a hard-hit single off the pitcher's glove.
Catcher Lane Winkler put down a perfect sacrifice bunt after going 2-for-3 in her previous at-bats.
"That was a good job by Lane getting that bunt down," said Mustangs coach Tony Wolanski. "She'd been having a great day hitting but she sacrificed her self for the team."
Winkler's bunt got Mahoe to second and after a popup to short, Whidden stepped into the batter's box and produced the walk-off hit.
"I'm happy for Hannah," Wolanski said."She has been pressing a little in the conference to get a bit hit. She earned that one. She has been working hard and that's when good things happen."
The Mustangs also had good things happen on defense, such as center fielder Enmiy Hattory's running catch to her left to rob Jessica Schmiederer of extra bases.
Brunlieb tossed a 4-hitter, giving up multiple hits in only one inning.
In the second inning, Angela Schmiederer doubled with one out and Sammie Carrillo followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
Meadows took a 1-0 in the first inning when Sam Anderson led off with a double to left center and scored on Hattory's base hit with no outs.
But Fang (1-3) escaped further damage by getting a strikeout on a double play.
"Rachel has been phenomenal for us," said Hersey coach Molly Freeman. "She has had great command of her pitches. If I ask her to go inside, she's inside. If I ask outside, she's right there on the outside."
Annie Cannata and Gina Fasolo had the other hits for Hersey (5-11, 3-7).
The Huskies threatened in the top of the 10th with a runner on second (Cannata) and one out (sacrifice bunt by Alysia Zaucha). Jessica Schmiederer walked to give Hersey runners on first and second with two outs.
Brunlieb got out of the jam with a grounder to shortstop Grace Skorin who threw to third baseman Mahoe for the force out.
Anderson, who had been at short, suffered a shoulder injury in her final at-bat in the ninth and did not return to the game.
"It was going to come down to one hit, and they happened to get it," Freeman added. "I thought we battled and our defense was spectacular. Give Meadows credit. They got the big hit."
Highlighting the Hersey defense was an over-the-shoulder catch by second baseman Cannata to save a run in the fifth inning. The ball popped out of her glove and she stayed with it to make the catch.
Left fielder Zaucha made a nice grab on the run to rob Maddie Morgan in the sixth and shortstop Angela Schmiederer prevented a hit in the ninth with a sprawling catch in shallow center.
Multiple hitters for Meadows were Grace Skorin (2-for-4), Mahoe (2-for-4), Winkler (2-for-3), Brunlieb (2-for-4) and Whidden (2-for-5).
"Give credit to Sara (Brunlieb)," Wolanski said. "She pitched a great game. She's had some tough luck pitching but we played real good defense this game and battled.
"We've had some injuries but the kids are doing their best. They are coming out and giving a great effort. Sometimes the results are not there but it is the effort that counts."
And Whidden sure made her final at-bat count.
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