Alt, Schaumburg power into regional final
Schaumburg softball coach Ellen Stoddard had one message for her Saxons when they took the field for their own Class 4A regional semifinal game on Thursday.
"We told them to 'be intense and stayed relaxed' " she said.
The Saxons took heed and were all on the same page.
And the final page of the Schaumburg's win came off the bat of freshman Paige Alt.
Her second home run of her young career — and third 2-run homer of the game by the Saxons — made it 10-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the game by the 10-run rule over No. 9 seed Elk Grove.
Senior Hannah Kerr fired a 1-hitter with 5 strikeouts and faced the minimum of 15 batters to earn her seventh win in nine decisions.
The No. 6 Saxons (20-9) advance to Saturday's championship game to face No. 2 Glenbard North (24-4).
"Hannah did awesome," said Saxons coach Ellen Stoddard about her pitcher who also went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. "She came ready to go."
"Hannah pitched great and we made the plays on defense," said Saxons sophomore Shannon Felde (2-for-3, 4 RBI), who had a 2-run homer in the third to left-center and 2-run double in the first to center. "Everyone just came out ready to play."
The third Saxon to get into the home run parade was Julia Bellinger, who connected for her first varsity blast in the Saxons' 4-run fifth.
Senior third baseman Carly Brossard led off with a long single to left and then classmate Bellinger walloped her 2-run homer over the left field fence.
After hitting a homer, Bellinger actually predicted one.
The next two batters were retired after Bellinger's homer but freshman Christina Candotti kept the inning alive with a double to right center.
That brought up Alt, who already had a single in the first inning and a RBI in the second.
"I was like, 'Paige is going to get a home run to end it,' " said Bellinger with a smile.
Sure enough, Alt put the ball over the left-field fence.
Everyone in the Saxons' lineup had it least 1 hit, including sophomore Roxanne Kakareka and senior Dana Giannelli (walk), who each went 2-for-3.
Lindsay Leiber also singled for the Saxons to lead off their 3-run second inning.
"Their lineup impressed me," said Elk Grove Hall of Fame coach Ken Grams, who ended his 33rd season only 2 wins shy of 800. "They've hit the ball as well against us as anyone, and they've done it to us two different times this season (the Saxons won 14-5 earlier in the spring). I'm impressed."
Elk Grove's only baserunner came when senior center fielder Elisa Payne led off the top of the second with a double to left and advanced to third on a passed ball.
But Kerr got out of the inning with a double play and a strikeout.
Payne and shortstop Becca Maher were the only returning starters from last year's team which was a Class 4A state semifinalist.
"A 20-win season is a benchmark for a good year," said Grams, who team finished at 22-14. "And these kids were able to do that with minimal varsity experience. Now they need to realize how competitive varsity softball is and continue to make strides forward."
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