It's true: Fremd wins regional crown
A politician might lie, but not the daughter of one.
Honestly, not Ashlynne Schwantz, anyway.
So when a tight pitch by Carmel Catholic's Nicole Bitter appeared to graze the lefty-hitting Schwantz and ricochet away during Fremd's 2-1 win in Saturday's Class 4A Libertyville regional final, the Vikings senior quickly acknowledged that the ball, in fact, hit the knob of her bat.
Fremd coach Jim Weaver just had to question the home-plate umpire, who correctly called it a foul ball.
"I came down (from the third base coach's box) and told (the umpire) that if I didn't come down and talk to him, all my fans would want to get rid of me," Weaver joked. "I'm supposed to argue that, even though I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on."
Just call her Honest Ash.
"I don't like people who try to play it off like, 'Oh, I got hit,' " said Schwantz, whose dad, Jim, is the mayor Palatine and a former Chicago Bear, too.
There is trust in Schwantz — and the feeling is mutual on the Vikings.
Unfazed by a solo home run by Carmel's Sarah Koesser leading off the top of the seventh, Schwantz retired the next three hitters in order to send No. 4 Fremd (24-7) into Tuesday's 4:30 p.m. sectional semifinal against top-seeded Barrington (32-1) at Rolling Meadows.
"I just trusted what I was throwing and that the defense would stay the way it had been the whole game," the bespectacled right-hander said. "Our defense was really tight, so I wasn't worried at all."
"Nothing really rattles Ash," Weaver said.
Schwantz struck out 12 and didn't walk a batter in firing a complete-game 3-hitter. Carmel's Kathleen Felicelli, Jenny Behan and Amanda Elert — who have hit a combined 29 home runs — went a collective 1-for-8.
Koesser's second homer of the season was Carmel's 36th. The sophomore designated player also had the Corsairs' first hit, a line-drive single to right-center with two out in the fourth.
"I knew she was pitching outside, so I figured I might as well drive it to right field," Koesser said of her homer. "It just takes a while to adjust to her. ... She throws hard and also hits her spots really well."
Carmel finished 21-12, despite having only one senior starter in Skyler Zak. The first baseman turned in a defensive gem when she speared Tracy Welninski's line drive and turned it into a 3-5 double play to end the Fremd sixth.
"It's unfortunate we had to meet Fremd in the regional final," Carmel coach Jason Raymond said. "I think it's more of a sectional-type game. Fremd's a great program."
The feeling is mutual. Weaver wasn't happy when he saw the 4-5 draw. When Carmel and Fremd played earlier in the season, it was a 1-1 game in the sixth before the host Vikings wound up winning 6-1.
"We knew what we were getting into," Weaver said. "We got a lot of respect for their lineup and their coaching staff, and their pitcher threw a great game against us today."
Bitter struck out five, including the side in the third, and walked a pair. Fremd scored an unearned run in the fifth. Julie Josten led off with a double and scored two batters later on an error. Josten had sped to third on pinch hitter Morgan Chencinski's sacrifice bunt, which impressed her coach.
"She hasn't gotten an at-bat in a game in probably a month," Weaver said of Chencinski. "But she's a good bunter, and she needs to be ready for that role. When you're part of a team, you never know when your number's going to be called. The situation called for it, and she got it done with no problem."
Fremd added a key insurance run in the sixth when Illinois-commit Leigh Farina (2-for-3) and Michelle Mazur (2-for-2) hit back-to-back doubles to right-center field. Four of the 5 hits Bitter allowed were doubles. Mazur mashed a pair.
"She pitched well," Raymond said of Bitter. "She left only a couple of pitches over the plate. She was hitting her spots. She pitched to the game plan."
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