Softball: Guercio powers a wild Lake Zurich win

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/3/2016 10:33 PM
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The formula is simple: find a pitch you can drive.

Well, that worked wonders for Lake Zurich junior catcher Amanda Guercio, who belted 3 round-trippers that played a major part in the Bears' wild and wacky 20-17 victory over North Suburban Lake softball rival Stevenson in Lincolnshire on Tuesday afternoon.

"I just try and keep an open mind and drive it," said Guercio, who now has 11 dingers on the year and is one shy of her personal-best 12 she hit two years ago as a freshman.

"I really want to break my record. We're a young team with only 1 senior and realize it might take a little time. But we're not too worried. We're starting to pull it together. This is like a warm-up year for us."

As long as they keep hitting the ball like they did on Tuesday, there shouldn't be too many doubters where future production is concerned.

Actually both Stevenson and Lake Zurich are cranking out the hits and runs and at the right time with just a few short weeks left in the season. On Tuesday, the two combatants combined for 35 hits.

The game looked well under control for the Bears, who staked to a 17-6 lead after Guercio's third tater in the top of the fourth frame, a 2-out shot that scored junior shortstop Julia Zaucha (single).

"But when we get ahead, sometimes we'll have a bad inning after that," noted Guercio, who finished 4-for-4 with 3 homers, 7 RBI and 5 runs scored.

That observation held water on this day.

After scoring a run in the bottom of the third, the Lady Pats answered with 4 more in its half of the fourth to keep within striking distance at 17-10 with the big hit in the inning a lead-off homer off the bat of junior centerfielder Vera Pflugradt.

Stevenson then went crazy in the very next inning and tied the game 17-17 after putting a 7-spot on the board as 12 batters went to the plate.

Freshman pitcher Riley Housinger started things off with a double to score senior first bagger Myra Peterson (single) and junior catcher Mic Faunce (double) to make it 17-12.

Then with 2 outs, junior left fielder Alana Labashin roped a 2-run triple almost to the wall in center, plating Housinger and junior first baseman Hannah Epstein (single). A batter later, junior second baseman Emma Oriatti, Peterson and Faunce started what would be three consecutive RBI singles to tie the game.

"Between yesterday and today, our momentum and spark is there," said Pats second year coach Alex Vikartofsky, whose team scored 8 runs in the final inning to beat Mundelein 10-7 the day before.

"We just need to work on not giving up so many runs. We also have to tighten up the pitching and defense. But the sticks are alive."

After an unheard of scoreless fifth frame by both teams, Schnecker smacked a base hit to left that scored Guercio (walk) for what turned out to be the game-winner for Lake Zurich (7-13, 4-5) in the top of the seventh.

The Bears would then add two more insurance runs when Puccinelli (double) scored on a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly by freshman starting pitcher Stephanie Keefe then plated Schnecker to round out the scoring.

"I never thought there would be so much stress involved with scoring 20 runs," said Bears coach Amanda Rodriguez. "But it was nice to come back after they beat us 15-3 earlier this season. It helps our confidence when we can get off to a fast start."

Limited to one pitcher for now anyway, Keefe got the ball and wound up going the distance to pick up the win.

Faunce added a solo homer in the fourth, while junior centerfielder Vera Pflugradt ripped three triples in the losing effort for Stevenson.

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