Lauren Stanley deserved better.
Allowing only an unearned run in the sixth inning, Stanley was the hard-luck loser as Cary-Grove dropped a gut-wrenching 1-0 decision to Prairie Ridge in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division softball action in Crystal Lake Monday afternoon.
The victory gave the Wolves the outright Valley championship with a 10-2 record. The Trojans end league play with a 9-3 slate.
"To win the Valley this season is quite an accomplishment because there are so many great teams," said Prairie Ridge coach Mike Buck. "Cary-Grove is a very good team. We expect hard, tough games every time we play them."
For the Wolves (24-3 overall), Alyssa Doomis started the pivotal sixth inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Emily Widger, who pinch hit for Maddie Drain. Stanley got tough and struck out Emily Doomis for the second out. Alyssa Doomis then scored the game's lone run from second on a Trojan error.
Cary-Grove (18-4 overall) threatened to score on Prairie Ridge ace Kirsten Stevens in the first two innings.
In the first, Amy Clemment and Jamie Deering reached base on infield hits to put runners on first and second with one out. Stevens escaped the inning unscathed by getting Caroline Zasadil on an infield pop up to first baseman Marissa Richter and Sarah Leudo on a line drive to right fielder Sarah Rohloff.
In the second, Caitlyn Adams reached on a single and Sarah Kendeigh walked to put runners on first and second with one out. But again, Stevens got out of the inning without allowing a run. The senior left-hander got Beata Krembuszewski to fly out to left fielder Kate Didier and Lisa Semro grounded to Stevens for the final out.
The P senior settled down and blanked the Trojans on 2 singles during the final 5 innings. She struck out 6 and walked 1 in earning the win.
"I was a little too pumped up at the beginning of the game," said Stevens. "Once I settled down I pitched well. My defense behind me was outstanding. It is a great feeling to win the conference championship because the conference is so strong."
In 6 innings, Stanley gave up an unearned run while scattering 7 singles. She struck out 5 and walked 3.
"Lauren was outstanding," said Cary-Grove coach Tammy Olsen. 'It is a credit to this team we were playing for the conference championship without Lindsay (Efflandt)."
Efflandt was hit by a line drive the last time Cary-Grove played PR on April 22 and has been out of action since.