After 11 extra-base hits, including 4 home runs, and 7 errors, a can-of-corn flyball ended up being the game-winner.
South Elgin's softball team battled back from an 8-3 deficit to beat Streamwood 9-8 Monday morning in the Class 4A St. Charles East regional play-in game when Taylor Rees' sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Brittany Koss with the winning run.
Senior Alyssa Buddle hit 3 straight home runs for the Storm, including a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth inning that went about 250 feet and tied the game at 8-8.
The win sends the Storm (18-13) to St. Charles Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. and a semifinal date with the defending state runner-up Saints, who are the third overall seed in the Bartlett sectional complex.
"They feel really lucky," said first-year South Elgin coach Stephanie Katzenberger of her team. "We're a better team but it's been a struggle mentally for us."
Early in Monday's game, the Storm's struggles were with the gloves. They made 5 errors in the first four innings behind senior Paige Allen (5 Ks, no walks), who allowed 6 hits but only 1 earned run as 18th-seeded Streamwood (4-20) built an 8-3 lead. The Sabres scored twice in the second inning on 2 Storm errors, then put up 4 runs in the third, all unearned. Melissa Malcolm had an RBI single in that inning. Then Streamwood scored twice in the fourth, another error helping score one run and another coming home on a single from Jessica Daley (3-for-5).
No. 14 seed South Elgin, which scored in the first on an RBI single from sophomore Cassidy Westlund, got back-to-back home runs from Westlund and Buddle in the third then made it an 8-6 game in the fourth when Buddle launched a long 3-run bomb over the left field fence with two outs to score Rees, who had doubled, and Rachel Ziemba who had walked, ahead of her.
Meanwhile, the South Elgin defense settled in behind freshman reliever Karli Dobler, who allowed the Sabres just 2 hits in the final five innings. The Sabres did have a chance in the eighth when they got Natalie Filippo, who had a 2-run double in the third, to third base with two outs but Dobler got an infield popup to end the inning.
Westlund (3-for-5) singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth and Buddle took Kaitlyn Hedger's first pitch well over the fence in center field to tie the game. It was the James Madison recruit's ninth homer of the season, one in which she has been walked over 25 times.
"I felt like I saw the ball really well," Buddle said. "I never think home runs, I think basehits. I've just been trying to keep my weight back and drive the ball up the middle."
Brittany Koss got the game-winning rally going for the Storm, winners in 7 of their last 8, in the ninth with a leadoff double. Brittany Rogalla sacrificed her to third and Rees' flyball to center was deep enough for Koss to score the winning run without a play.
"Everyone was kind of down in the second inning but we came back and fought through it," said Rees, who also had a triple in the bottom of the seventh but was left stranded. "I'm proud of my team. We all wanted it."
Mercedes Olmos and Natalie Rodriguez added doubles for Streamwood.
"We had a lot of enthusiasm going but we don't expect to win," said Streamwood coach Nick Baird. "We just have to figure out how to make it work. We expect bad things to happen but that's the best game we played this year."