St. Ignatius did what few teams could do this season: slow Montini hitters.
The Wolfpack came from behind at the Class 3A Rosemont softball supersectional to defeat Montini 5-4, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning at Bandits Stadium.
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"They executed," Montini coach Richie Costante said of the Wolfpack (28-12). "They did a good job. The second pitcher they brought in kept us off-balance, did a real nice job, and we didn't execute."
The Broncos (27-11) got off to a typically good start, scoring 3 runs in the top of the first inning. When pitcher Lauren Trojnar stranded Maura Lynch at third base following her triple to lead off the bottom of the first, things were looking good for the Broncos.
"We started off great," Costante said. "We just couldn't capitalize, couldn't get more. And it came back and bit us."
"Our goal all year has been to try and win the first inning, and we haven't been very good at it," Wolfpack coach Allison Heraty said. "The girls knew we could get it back, we just needed a little bit more time."
When Montini senior Sara Ross tripled with one out in the third inning, St. Ignatius brought in Lynch to pitch, relieving Colleen Hoffman. The normally prolific Montini offense struggled the rest of the way, finishing with just 5 hits. The Broncos had 19 hits and scored 14 runs in the sectional final.
"We scored early like we wanted to do, but we kind of just died," Ross said. "Like in the dugout our energy kind of died. They stayed up and stayed in the game, so congrats to them."
"When you only have (5) hits you can't expect to win, especially against a good team like that," Costante said.
St. Ignatius tied the game at 3 in the fourth inning. The Broncos scratched out a run in the fifth to take the lead back senior Cristina Barrett singling, reaching third base on a pair of passed balls and scoring on sophomore Emily Lezcano's sacrifice fly to center field. They didn't score again.
"We switched the pitchers, which I think surprised them, and we scouted them, so we knew what they were able to hit off of and we knew a little bit about what they couldn't hit," Heraty said. "We really went into discussing that game plan and stuck to it.
"We pitched a lot of outside pitches and a lot of off-speed, just making sure they couldn't catch up with the speed of the pitch and hit it hard."
It worked, with the Broncos often trying to pull outside pitches and grounding out.
"Hats off to their team," Ross said. "They made some good plays. Their pitcher pitched well. I guess we just couldn't get the job done. I guess our hits just weren't as good as usual today."
Lynch scored the winning run in the seventh, walking, going to second base on Hannah Contreras' single to center field and going to third on a walk to Katie Gallagher. She scored easily when Hoffman drove a hit down the right-field line, ending the game.
"It's a great season. We have no reason to hang our heads. It was a phenomenal year. We've got a lot to build on. Hopefully we can have another good year next year," Costante said, whose program had never before won a sectional game, much less a sectional.
"These two seniors (Barrett and Ross), they put their heart and soul into our program. They're the reason why we're here, is our two seniors. They carried us."
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