Softball: Pontiac spoils Antioch’s plan; Sequoits settle for 2nd at 3A state tourney

PEORIA — Antioch hoped to climb the ladder.

After placing third in Class 3A two years ago and second last season, the Sequoits softball team planned to jump to first place this spring.

But Pontiac had other plans.

Pontiac came up with the big hits when it had to and ace Elena Krause shut out Antioch 6-0 to capture the Class 3A state championship Saturday at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.

It was the first softball state title for the Indians (31-7) who moved up to Class 3A this season. Antioch (29-6), which was shut out for the first time since losing 1-0 in 12 innings to Lemont in last year's 3A title game, still brought home its third straight state trophy.

"It feels great and it means the world," Antioch ace pitcher Jacey Schuler said. "It's still great to accomplish even though it wasn't first place."

It was.

Schuler had two hits and reached base every time she was at bat. Sophomore first baseman Kailyn Bockwoldt also went 2-for-3 as the Sequoits had six hits but stranded 10 runners.

"For sure it hurts because we had many opportunities," Schuler said. "But (Pontiac) was one of the best teams we faced."

The Sequoits had at least one runner on in six innings. In four of them, they stranded two. They had the first two runners reach in the first three innings.

The opportunity that really hurt was in the top of the third. Trailing 2-0, sophomore second baseman Jadynn Ruiz (1-for-2) walked to lead off and Schuler singled up the middle.

One out later Bockwoldt had an infield single to load the bases. That brought up sophomore Claire Schuyler who smoked a shot at her counterpart Bailey Masching. The senior shortstop reached up snared the liner and fired to third to complete a double play to end the inning.

"I felt confident going up and when I hit it that felt good and I thought it was going in," Schuyler said. "It didn't deflate us. We still had opportunities.

"Not every team gets to do this and we enjoy every time we do. It was a hard loss but we're going to work hard in the offseason to be back."

It was the fifth state title for Pontiac but the first since Class 3A football in 1993 and the first on the girls' side. Krause (24-5), a junior right-hander, fired a complete game with six hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. She was also big at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI, including an RBI single in a two-run first and a two-run single to cap the scoring in the sixth.

Maddie Gourley, a senior centerfielder and leadoff batter, was also 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI for the Indians, who had single runs in the third and the fourth and overcame committing three errors.

Freshman center fielder Tegan Schuler, the younger sister of Jacey Schuler, led off the game with a single and finished 1-for-4. Jacey Schuler (23-4), who will go on to play at Michigan State, allowed five earned runs on seven hits with six walks and six strikeouts.

"Jacey is the best player I've ever coached, period," Antioch coach Anthony Rocco said. "I woke up this morning and felt sad that no matter what happened this was my last game coaching her. She's a great hitter too and had five grand slams in her career, which is one short of the state record.

"We just didn't get the timely hit. We had the bases loaded and lined into the double play. There were a lot of emotions and things didn't go our way, but we're the first Antioch softball team to get to state three years in a row and have six of our top seven hitters back next year."

The Sequoits have one state championship in their school history, a medium division competitive cheer one in 2020. Jacey Schuler hoped to take them to another one, but she'll never forget this journey.

"The people mostly," she said when asked what she'll remember the most. "I'm going to play in college but some of the seniors aren't. They're my best friends and I'll miss them."

June 8, 2024 — Peoria, Illinois — Sequoits' Addison Webb wipes away her tears after their Class 3A title game against Pontiac on Saturday at the IHSA Girls' 3A Softball State Finals. Antioch finished second in the state after falling 6-0 to the Indians. Clark Brooks
June 8, 2024 — Peoria, Illinois — Sequoits' Samantha Hillner tags out a Pontiac baserunner during their Class 3A title game against on Saturday at the IHSA Girls' 3A Softball State Finals. Antioch finished second in the state after falling 6-0 to the Indians. Clark Brooks
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