Grayslake Central's softball team seemed to searching for energy until Brandy Heraty walked to the plate in the fourth inning.
With one crack of the bat, she woke her team up during Wednesday's Class 3A sectional semifinal at Ridgewood.
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Her home run pulled the Rams even on the scoreboard against Lakes. She added a bases-loaded walk in a 10-run fifth, as second-seeded Grayslake Central went on to beat the third-seeded Eagles 12-4.
The Rams (23-12) will take on No. 1 Wauconda (28-8) in the sectional final at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Heraty's homer was her sixth of the season.
"I was just trying to drive the ball where it was pitched," Heraty said. "Fortunately, I got a ball right down the middle. I just wanted to get the team back into the game. This team never dies. We just keep on going."
Lakes (19-17) had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Pinch runner Savannah Tanneberger scored on a throwing error, and Ashley Horner crossed the plate on Abbi Mehnert's single.
The Eagles reclaimed the lead at 4-2 in the fifth, as Ally Perdue smacked a 2-run home run to straightaway center field.
But in the bottom of the frame, Grayslake Central sent 14 batters to the plate. The Rams scored their first three runs of the inning on walks.
"I'm just so proud how this group bounced back," Grayslake Central coach Jason Schaal said. "We sent up a lot of batters and continued to hit the ball. I don't know if we've had an inning like that this year where we've scored 10 runs. You just get a couple of hits and then it snowballs and forces them to make a pitching change."
Kate Strickland and Jamie Brew also drew walks with the bases loaded. Juliana Frusolone had a sacrifice fly, while Theresa Curtis and Shelby White each had 2-run doubles. Teagan Truskowski contributed an RBI single.
Lakes tried to mount a comeback, loading the bases in the sixth and seventh innings. A lineout ended the rally in the sixth and a fly out to the fence ended the game.
Lakes was playing in its first sectional. The Eagles had gone through some difficult times recently, as senior pitcher Taylor Dishinger lost her father to cancer and head coach Bill Hamill's assistant coach lost his wife to cancer. Also, sisters Montana and Chandler Mang, two starters, moved after their father took a job in Pennsylvania.
"It was difficult what these girls fought through," Hamill said. "They've taken a lot of shots to the gut this year. We play for the name on the front and not for the name on the back. They've done that for me. This team here makes it worth coming back."