Keep it low. It seemed simple enough.
Junior Holly Pagan had to work out of some stressful situations, but she was able to execute the plan and keep Lake Park hitters off balance while silencing the Lancers' potent offense as defending Class 4A state runner-up Bartlett captured its second consecutive regional title by taking a 3-1 victory over Lake Park Saturday in the Class 4A Bartlett regional final.
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The Hawks (27-9) now advance to play St. Charles East on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the St. Charles East sectional. The Saints beat Bartlett 4-1 on April 9.
"Last time we played (Lake Park), they hit a home run off of me, and all of their hits came off of high pitches so I knew I had to keep it low," Pagan said. "I knew if I kept it in the infield there would be less damage."
Pagan did just that. Despite having runners in scoring position in 5 out of the 7 innings, she focused in and was able to get out of jams.
"Holly pitches real well under pressure," said Bartlett head coach Jim Wolfsmtih. "We had some errors today that put her in that pressure, but she hit spots real well and she trusted her defense behind her to make the plays."
The Hawks jumped ahead early as Rachel Odolski led off the game with a walk before being sacrificed to second by Lauren Janczak. Alex Morales then raced down to first on an infield hit to the pitcher that ended up sailing into right field on the throw, which plated Odolski. It was then Pagan who stepped to the plate and delivered an RBI double to left-center which drove in Morales.
The Lancers got their only run in the bottom of the second as Sam Cummings led off with a single to right and after an error on a failed double play attempt, Cummings beat home a close play at the plate on an grounder back to the circle.
Both teams threatened for the remainder of the game, but Pagan was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the third.
"We couldn't come up with a good hit," said Lake Park head coach Tom Mazzie. "The bats just got shut down and Pagan did a great job of working it in and out, and was able to saw a few girls off in key situations."
It was evident that both teams struggled in key situations as the Hawks stranded 8 runners on the bases while the Lancers stranded 7.
Bartlett would add an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning as Wolfsmith made what proved to be a genius call. After Odolski walked to lead off the inning, and was again sacrificed to second by Janczak, Wolfsmith made the call with one out and No. 3 hitter Kayla Haberstich at the plate to lay down another sacrifice bunt. Odolski moved over to third and Morales delivered am RBI single back up the middle to drive in the game's final run.
"Kayla is our RBI stud, but she is also probably one of our best bunters," Wolfsmith stated. "The first thing we saw was their first baseman playing back and the second thing we saw was the outfield was playing in so we knew that a base hit to the outfield wouldn't score the runner from second."
Bartlett ended the game on a nifty double play as Odolski snagged a hard line drive and then was able to double off Lake Park's baserunner on first base for the final out.
Pagan led the Hawks in the circle as she pitched a complete game while striking out 3 and scattering just 4 hits. Danielle Jecmen was also effective for the Lancers allowing 5 hits while striking out 3. Pagan also paced the Hawks offensively with a 2-for-4 effort from the plate. Cummings paced the Lancers as she was 1-for-1 and reached base all 3 plate appearances.
"Bartlett is always a scrappy team," stated Mazzie. "They were able to scratch out the runs today and we just weren't able to push them across."