Breaking News Bar
updated: 5/17/2014 8:38 PM

Fremd tops Conant, tightens up West race

Success - Article sent! close

Despite Conant trailing 10-4 going into its last at-bat, the noise level in the Cougars' softball dugout was as loud as ever to start the top of the seventh inning at Fremd.

It wasn't until 5 runs later that the host Vikings had finally silenced Conant's bats and held on for a dramatic 10-9 victory over the Mid-Suburban West leaders.

The Cougars had runners on first and third with two outs when a groundout to shortstop Leigh Farina gave Fremd the victory and prevented the Cougars from clinching an outright MSL West crown.

The Cougars (21-2, 13-2) can still do that on Monday with a victory over visiting Schaumburg (21-7, 11-3), which is tied for second with Barrington (21-9, 11-3).

"They (Conant) just wouldn't do down," said Fremd coach Jim Weaver, whose club also held a 6-0 lead in the game. "Any time you can put up 10 runs on a real good team you've got to be happy. They scored 11 on us the first time we played (11-5 loss) so we knew we had to score at least 10 this time."

The Vikings went to work fast, scoring twice in the first inning with a RBI infield single by Kayla Kaufman (2-for-4) and an RBI groundout by Farina.

They added 3 more in the second inning with a 2-run double to left by Alyssa Garcia and RBI single to left by Tracy Welninski for a 5-0 cushion.

Pitcher Lea Barrett's lead stretched to 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Garcia's third hit of the game, a single to left, drove in Julie Josten (2-for-4).

The slap-hitting Garcia, coming off a 3-for-4 effort with 3 RBI and 2 home runs against Hoffman Estates, went 3-for-3 Saturday with a walk and 3 RBI.

"I was a normal hitter when I was younger but when I got to high school I became a slapper," Garcia said. "Coach Weaver says it's up to me what I do. He has been working with me on following through with my swing."

It was the Cougars' turn to start swinging the bats in the top of the fifth when they scored 4 runs with two outs.

Three straight homers -- a 2-run shot by Rachel O'Malley over the right-center fence and solo blasts by Telly Hunter and Sara Neuman -- cut the deficit to 6-4.

Joanna Josten finished the inning on the mound for Fremd, getting a big strikeout for the final out.

"Jo's strikeout there was huge," Weaver said. "It was not one of the better games for Lea but she did what she had to do to keep us in the game and that's a sign of maturing."

Fremd came back with 3 runs on 2 its in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Catcher Holly Straup (3-for-4) and leadoff batter Abby Iuorio (2-for-4) had the hits and both scored in the inning along with Lauren Vanhavermaet, who raced home on a double steal.

Straup's RBI single to center gave the hosts the 10-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

The Cougars big seventh-inning rally included back-to-back leadoff doubles by Elisa Ambrose (2-for-5) and DeeDee Durr (2-for-4).

O'Malley (2-for-3) drew a walk and then Hunter (2-for-4, 4 RBI) belted her second homer of the game, a 3-run blast to center that made it 10-8.

Barrett (5-1) returned to the mound, and did not allow a hit to the final 6 batters. A dropped third strike allowed the Cougars to get their ninth run.

Alissa Wachal (2-for-4, double) and Kim Zaucha (1-for-2) were on base when Barrett got the final out on the grounder to short.

"I feel like I do well under pressure," Barrett said of her work in the seventh. "I just really wanted to get that done for my team. We've all been working so hard in practice and it was nice to see it pay off."

"All the kids are working hard," said Weaver, whose Vikings will host 'Blood-borne Cancer Day' on Monday when Palatine visits. "It's hard to stay on top of your game though the long season. We've got to find ways to keep working hard to get better."

The Cougars will try to work things out on Monday, seeking to clinch a third MSL West crown in four years.

"Fremd had a real good game plan," said Conant coach CathyAnn Smith. "They knew how to keep us off balance. They played good defense and we didn't.

"We had a good run in the middle of the game with our bats but we've got to do that all seven innings. So we have to regroup and get ready for Monday."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.