The scrapbook of a first-grade teacher at Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine received a final item on Monday night to complete Courtney's English's high school softball career.
The Pirates senior belted a two-out, 2-1 pitch for a 3-run homer to right-center field in the top of the seventh inning to lift the West to a dramatic 8-7 victory over the East in the 21st annual Mid-Suburban League Senior All-Star Softball Game at Barrington's Fields of Dreams.
English spent her senior year as an intern at Virginia Lake for her former first grade teacher.
"We called it going full cycle," said English of the chance to learn from her former teacher. "She kept all my clips from the season and the whole class would see them when she put them on the board."
Those students surely would have been proud of their intern this morning, as English also had a double in the first inning and earned the Nancy Frisk Most Valuable Player.
The MVP award was named in the memory of Nancy Frisk, who died of cancer in 1992. Nancy was the wife of Bob Frisk, an enthusiastic supporter of high school sports who retired in 2008 after 50 years at the Daily Herald.
Prior to Monday's game, Bob Frisk presented the classy plaque to the 2013 MVP winner, Dana Giannelli of Schaumburg. She is now studying at Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
English's double in the first inning was a rocket off the left-field fence.
When she came up for her final at-bat, winning pitcher Jules Udoni of Palatine (2 strikeouts) and Barrington's Erin Ward were on base. The West trailed 7-5 and there were two outs.
"When I went up there, our coach (Barrington's Perry Peterson, who also puts together the all-star event) said just hit it like that first one that went off the fence," English said.
She took it a step further, putting it over the fence.
"I love batting in the clutch when my team needs me," said English, who will study elementary education and play softball at Augustana College in Rock Island.
"I loved that internship at Virgina Lake so much. I'm so set going into that field, probably kindergarten through third grade."
In the inning before her game-winning blast, Elk Grove's Becca Maher belted a 2-run homer over the left field fence to give the East a 7-5 lead.
Maher also hit a homer in Sunday's Super 60 All-Star game in East Peoria, and she will play in another all-star game on Wednesday at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
"It's different playing with all these girls who you play against all season," said Maher, who statistically had the best offensive season in Elk Grove history and clubbed 13 homers. "They're all such great people."
Rolling Meadows' Grace Skorin (3-for-3), who had 4 homers this spring, also belted one in the first inning to tie the game at 1-1.
"This game was a lot of fun," said Skorin, who plans to study busy at Indiana University. "All the girls are so nice and it was really a good game."
Meghan Doyle (Prospect) and Emily Butler (Hersey) each went 2-for-3 for the East.
Wheeling pitcher Katie Quagliano (4 strikeouts), who made a superb catch of a line drive back to the mound, Elk Grove's Brooke Barges (RBI double), Rolling Meadows' Jenny Watson and Elk Grove's Gina Cirrincione (double) each had 1 hit for the East.
In addition to English, the West was led on offense by Ward (3-for-5, 2 RBI) and Barrington's Taylor Moran (2-for-4, RBI),
Palatine's Jamie Haze, Barrington's Jenna Privatsky (RBI), Udoni (double) and Hoffman Estates catcher Kaileen Hendle each had a hit for the West. In addition to her RBI single, Hendle had another familiar at-bat -- hit by a pitch for the 16th time this spring.
The East scored 4 times in the bottom of the fourth for a 5-1 lead but the West answered with 4 runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game.
The remaining runs would all come off the bats of Elk Grove Heat teammates -- Maher and English.
English hit 2 home runs during the season.
The last Pirate to earn the Nancy Frisk MVP was pitcher Amy Mitchell in 2006 when the West won 7-0.
"This was so much fun," English said. "I loved it so much. I've grown up with every one of these girls in my high school experience and know almost every one of them.
"To come together and play my final high school game with them is an amazing experience."
"That was fun," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. "The game was terrific with all the camaraderie and everyone getting to know each other, instead of just knowing each other by face. That's pretty cool."
"It's always a special game for the seniors who work so hard for four years." Peterson said.