Stevenson surges past Libertyville
It took one huge inning for visiting Stevenson to break it wide open Monday afternoon in the championship game of the Libertyville Class 4A softball regional.
The No. 10-seeded Patriots were clinging to a 2-1 lead when they stepped to the plate in the top of the fifth inning.
But 6 hits and 7 runs later, Stevenson (16-15) had a comfortable 9-1 lead before it held off a late rally by No. 3 Libertyville (24-12) to secure a 9-4 victory.
The Patriots will face No. 9 seed Lake Zurich Wednesday in the Glenbrook South sectional semifinals, as the Bears rolled to an easy win over Glenbrook North on Monday.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard first against winning pitcher Myra Peterson when Jessie Lauret reached base on a runner's interference call before scoring on a two-out single to right field by teammate Jamie Stevens.
Libertyville's lead was short-lived as Stevenson's Molly Thon was hit by a pitch before an error on Hannah Epstein's bunt put runners on second and third.
Fielder's choice RBI by No. 9 hitter Alana Labaschin and Vera Pflugradt off of Libertyville starter Hannah Heraty made the score 2-1 in a contest that was a pitchers' duel until the top of the fifth.
"They did a really good job of taking advantage of mistakes that we made," said Libertyville coach Elissa Wisniewski, who pitched for Stevenson during her playing days. "Sometimes that's how it goes -- we did a good job of fighting back, but it just wasn't enough."
With one out, Emma Oriatti started the Patriots' fifth-inning rally with a single to center before Trish Porzycki was hit by a pitch.
Thon's RBI single to right made the score 3-1 before Epstein smacked a 2-run double to left-center for a 5-1 advantage.
Then with two outs, senior Taylor Koenigs came through with a 2-run single to center before Kayleigh McGovern's 2-run double to right-center gave Stevenson its commanding 9-1 lead.
"We came to hit today, and we knew Libertyville wasn't going to take us lightly," said Peterson, whose team had split their two previous games against Libertyville this spring. "Everybody knew Libertyville was our rival and we really just wanted it as a team today."
The Wildcats started their late comeback in the bottom of the sixth when Lauret singled, and Heraty (5 innings pitched) doubled off of the left fielder's glove to put runners on second and third with no outs.
An RBI single by Stevens scored Lauret before a one-out single by Michaela Mooney drove in Heraty. Stevens scored on a passed ball to cut the lead to 9-4, but Peterson was able to work out of the jam with no further damage.
Stevenson coach Alex Vikartofsky was elated with her team's offense following the game. The Pats' lineup was effective from top to bottom in collecting 12 hits.
"I've got to really give credit to our offense because we had a rough start in the first inning," said Vikartofsky, who is also a former Stevenson pitcher. "We were just stringing the hits together, and our motto is string the small hits together and not depend on the long ball."
After getting touched for 3 runs in the sixth, Peterson was able to close out the contest without any more drama in the seventh as she retired the side in order to set off a Stevenson victory celebration.
"Our pitcher pitched fantastically today and our defense was solid," said Vikartofsky, whose team outhit the Wildcats 12-8. "Our bottom of the order did a great job coming around, and overall it was a great team win."