Waubonsie Valley defeats South Elgin to win Valley
Waubonsie Valley's wait was worth it.
Its game with South Elgin Friday suspended after one batter due to rain, the two teams came back Monday with the No. 4 Warriors' 4-1 win clinching the outright Upstate Eight Valley championship.
A regular season full of frustrating weather backups ended in rewarding fashion on its last day, Waubonsie repeating as a conference champion for the first time in program history.
"We are well-deserving of this," said winning pitcher Shannon Hohman, who struck out 12 in six innings. "Through the rain, the cold, the weather — we worked hard to get this. We were hungry for this, and I think it showed."
Hohman and Waubonsie (23-5, 16-3), who won their ninth straight game, now get a short turnaround to start the second season.
Waubonsie plays Wheaton Warrenville South today in a regional game at Yorkville. The Warriors, who lost to Plainfield Central in a regional final last year, seek their first regional title since 1997.
"We did not show ourselves in the playoffs well last year," Hohman said. "This year we want to make a statement. We want that regional, we want that sectional — everything. If we're going to do it anytime, it's going to be this year with this group of girls."
Hohman could be right. This is her last dance with older sister Erin Hohman, Waubonsie's third baseman, as well as standout shortstop Amanda Minahan. Warriors coach Aly Kelley also told her team last week she's stepping down at the end of the season.
Hohman and Waubonsie lost at South Elgin 6-5 in April, but this was another story.
Using a screwball with great run on it to complement her curve, Hohman struck out the side in the second and fifth, allowing just 2 hits and 3 walks, before turning it over to Jordan Kurth in the seventh. Kurth struck out two in her inning.
South Elgin worked several deep counts, to no avail.
"My screwball was moving a lot," Hohman said. "I don't think those girls were ready for it. They took a lot of pitches and I was getting a little aggravated but towards the end my movement started to get them to swing."
South Elgin coach Jason Schaal thought his girls were a little too selective at the plate.
"Against a pitcher like Shannon Hohman you may only see one good pitch," Schaal said. "We talked about that."
Schaal's Storm (17-14, 11-8) broke ahead 1-0 in the top of the first, Alyssa Buddle doubling in Cassidy Westlund with two outs.
Waubonsie answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half on Shannon Hohman's run-scoring groundout and Meghan Grannan's double that plated Minahan. Layne Thresh tripled in the fourth and scored on a wild pitch and Erin Hohman singled in Thresh in the sixth for Waubonsie's final run.
Kelley allowed her team to soak in the championship moment, with the caveat that they bring a superior effort starting Tuesday.
"I wasn't completely pleased with the way we played today," Kelley said. "Let them have their high when they get that trophy, but then I have to bring them back down and keep it real. If we go in with that kind of energy and focus tomorrow or any other postseason game it's not going to work."
South Elgin starts its playoffs Wednesday against Elgin. A tuneup game, as opposed to a practice, was both good and bad.
"The opportunity to face a pitcher like Hohman going into a game Wednesday against Jennah Perryman is a good thing," Schaal said, "but having played 18 games the last 22 days, getting two practices in wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world either. We've played 31 games this spring and practiced on our field twice. We'll do it tomorrow, we'll step on the field and see what we can do."
Follow Josh on Twitter @jwelge96
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