Kaneland made one early mistake in its Class 3A Rosary regional semifinal against Sandwich Tuesday in Aurora.
The Knights didn't make many more.
Contact information ( * required )
Kaneland scored 6 runs in the second inning to take control, then sent everyone home early with three runs in the fifth for a 10-0 win that puts the Knights in the regional championship game Saturday against the winner of Wednesday's Plano-Rosary semifinal.
All that after the Knights (23-3) ran themselves out of a first-inning rally with an inning-ending double play on a fly ball to left field that would have plated Lexi Roach.
That was long forgotten after the Knights pounded 13 hits, with eight of their starting nine getting at least one.
"We just wanted to come out strong," said second baseman Allie Miller, who led the way going 3-for-3.
"We wanted to play like we can, make the outs like we can, hit like we can. Do everything like we knew we could do. We kind of came out slow in the beginning but as we went on in the game we definitely came out strong with our hitting and with our pitching especially. We did exactly what we wanted to do."
Sarah Grams was the first of 11 Knights to come to the plate in the second inning when she laced a leadoff triple deep down the left-field line. Haley Contorno pounded an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.
Miller bunted for a hit, and freshman Meg Cohrs followed with the second triple of the inning to drive in a pair and make it 3-0.
Caroline Heimerdinger's single scored Cohrs with the fifth straight hit -- all from the No. 5-9 hitters who combined to go 9-for-14 against Sandwich starter Shannen Sutherland.
"We don't have one of the teams that has the beginning of the lineup and then the bottom of the lineup comes in," Miller said. "We have the top and bottom of the lineup produces whenever.
"She (Sutherland) had some spin on the ball that we couldn't pick up at first. By the end of the game we were hitting that ball, we knew exactly where it was, we were waiting back on it like we weren't doing at the beginning."
Lanie Callaghan capped the second inning with a 2-run single. After Roach's run-scoring single in the third, the Knights ended the game on a Heimerdinger RBI single in the fifth followed by back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Roach and Allyson O'Herron.
"I like the way they were disciplined at the plate at the end," Kaneland coach Brian Willis said. "I thought everybody played well. I thought we lost a little bit of our focus when we got up 7-0. I talked to the girls and I told them we need to keep our intensity the entire game and not back off and we scored the three runs to go home."
Roach, Contorno and Heimerdinger all had 2 hits to join Miller with multihit games.
All the offense was more than enough for starting pitcher Ellissa Eckert who finished with 6 strikeouts and just 1 walk while allowing only an infield single in the third inning. She retired the first eight hitters of the game and the final seven.
"I was hoping we would come out and be aggressive the whole game and put some pressure on their defense by hitting the ball hard which I thought we did today," said Willis whose team defeated both Rosary and Plano in the regular season.
"Defensively I thought we played solid. They didn't hit a lot of balls hard to put a lot of pressure on us but we had to make the plays. I thought we did. Ellissa pitched well. All-around I thought it was a good game."
Sandwich finished the season 5-22.
"There's definitely some big hitters there and some small ball," Sandwich coach Jessica Gale said of Kaneland. "We weren't really able to truly prepare (for the small ball because of no practices the past week). We weren't able to match the hits today."