Withstanding pressure is one of the keys to making a deep postseason run, and both the South Elgin and Wauconda softball teams got a taste of pressure in the opening game of the Bandits Jamboree on Saturday at The Ballpark in Rosemont.
A pitchers duel between Wauconda's Kayla Wedl and South Elgin's Paige Allen ended in a 2-1 Bulldogs win in 8 innings.
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The extra frame used international tiebreaker rules starting with a runner at second base, which was Wedl in the top of the eighth for Wauconda (19-12). Laren Nee laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Wedl to third base, and Alex Kinnamon (2-for-4) hit a one-out single to drive in the run for the 2-1 lead.
"Great ballgame," said Wauconda coach Tim Rennels. "That's exactly what we wanted to see. We knew the girls might be a little on edge and a little nervous playing in the big stadium, but they executed when they needed to."
The Storm's half of the eighth started with Mallory Mecklenburg at second base, and Allen laid down the sac bunt to send Mecklenburg to third with one out. Wedl then coaxed a popup on the infield and finished the game with her 10th strikeout.
"They executed in the eighth and we didn't," said South Elgin coach Jason Schaal.
The game started ominously for Wedl as South Elgin's Victoria Watt and Kara Rodriguez (2-for-4) hit back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the first, but Wedl went on to strikeout the next 6 batters and retired 10 straight until a one-out double by Alyssa Buddle in the fourth.
Wedl allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits, and she didn't walk a batter to improve to 12-6 on the season. She stranded 5 runners, 4 in scoring position.
"I just had to rely on my defense behind me," Wedl said. "They made the plays behind me if I didn't get a strikeout."
Both teams scored a run on squeeze bunts, the Bulldogs' coming in the fifth for a 1-0 lead. Megan Luchowski (2-for-3) hit a leadoff single, and courtesy runner Emily Holub later scored on Wedl's squeeze bunt.
The Storm (17-13) tied it in the bottom of the sixth when Rodriguez hit a one-out triple and scored on Cassidy Westlund's squeeze bunt. Buddle came up next and hit what looked like a 2-run home run to left field, but the umpire called it just to the left of the foul pole and she hit a fly out to left on the next pitch.
Allen took the tough loss allowing 1 earned run on 5 hits. She struck out 6 and walked 2.
"Paige has been pitching great all year," Schaal said. "The defense has let her down at times this season, but she's pitched great and she threw the ball well today."
The No. 7 seed Storm will take on No. 10 seed Elgin in the Class 4A St. Charles North Regional on Wednesday. The top seeded Bulldogs will play either No. 4 seed Marian Central or No. 5 Woodstock in the Class 3A Woodstock North Regional on Tuesday.