Ask any coach and they'll tell you they want their team playing their best this time of the year.
Rosary did just that, starting with what coach John Kazmierczak said was the Royals' best inning of the season in the bottom of the first Thursday against Plano in the Class 3A Rosary regional semifinals.
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No. 2 seed Rosary (12-18) scored seven runs in the first including a stretch of double-double-triple-home run, which was more than enough offense for Cara Smoczynski in a 12-0 victory.
The Royals will play No. 1 seed Kaneland at 11 a.m. Saturday for the regional title.
"That was our biggest inning of the year," Kazmierczak said. "I could sense their excitement from it too. This is what we were capable of doing all year."
Katelyn Groom drew a leadoff walk against Shannon Tierney, and then the Rosary bats came alive. Emma Molenhouse and Smoczynski both hit deep doubles past the outfielders, followed by Samantha Phelps tripling off the right-field fence.
Lauren Murray stepped up and launched a 2-run homer to left. Five battters into the game it was 5-0, and the Royals added runs on Danyal VanGundy's RBI groundout and Groom's sacrifce fly to make it 7-0.
"That gives me personally a lot of confidence," said Smoczynski. "I'd like to thank my team. That was a big help for me on the mound. We don't always come out strong like that so it was really nice to see."
After the Royals scored two more in the second including a run-scoring single from Katherine Witte, Smoczynski gave herself a 10-0 lead in the third with an RBI triple.
"We were on fire and just kept it going," said the Wisconsin-Whitewater bound Smoczynski. "We told each other what to look for and the speed and how to adjust and that was helping us also."
Jessica Wade capped the scoring with a towering 2-run home run in the fourth. Both Murray and Wade's homers were their second of the year.
Eight Royals had at least 1 hit and six of them drove in at least 1 run led by Witte (3-for-3), Smoczynski (2-for-3, 3 RBI) and Wade (2-for-3, 3 runs, 2 RBI).
"It looked like a beach ball to them," Kazmierczak said. "They just came out hungry. I think they want to play Kaneland again. We hit, we didn't field a week ago, but I think everybody wanted another shot."
Smoczynski kept Plano (6-29) quiet, limiting them to three singles and no walks while striking out five.
"I was focusing on fastball locations and also curveballs," Smoczynski said. "I made sure I worked inside and outside."
Not much went right for Plano coach Rebecca Zumpf.
"We came out ready to go but Rosary came out with a little more enthusiasm," Zumpf said. "They were able to put the hits together when they needed them in that first inning. It was not our game."
Now comes a rematch for Rosary with Kaneland who swept a recent doubleheader from Rosary 10-3 and 16-6. The Knights are enjoying a tremendous season at 23-3.
"I think if we come with confidence and determination we can get the win," Smoczynski said.