Softball: It adds up to a Libertyville regional triumph
The winning formula for Libertyville's softball team in the Class 4A Lake Forest regional was hitting, defense and pitching.
Actually, that didn't deviate from what the Wildcats did in the regular season.
Top-seeded Libertyville pounded out 6 runs in the first two innings and rolled past No. 9 Stevenson 9-2 in the regional final at Lake Forest's West Campus on Saturday. The Wildcats (28-7) will next play No. 5 Hersey in the Buffalo Grove sectional semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Libertyville scored 3 runs and sent eight batters to the plate in each of the first two innings. It was the third time in as many games this season that the Wildcats beat the Patriots.
"When we come out fired up and score early, it puts us in a whole new level," Libertyville coach Elissa Wisniewski said. "It sets a tone for the rest of the game. It's important for us to come out (and play well) early."
The Wildcats opened with bunt singles from Jessie Lauret (3-for-4) and Kenzie Rother (2-for-4). Jamie Stevens (1-for-3, 4 RBI) then smacked a 2-run double. Franny Quenan followed up with an RBI single.
"Getting the big hit felt great," Stevens said. "We have a great hitting lineup. It was an amazing game."
In the Libertyville second, Stevens brought home Lauret on a safety squeeze, pitcher Hannah Heraty delivered an RBI infield single, and Lyndsey Lyon (4-for-4, 2 RBI) added a run-scoring double for the 6-0 advantage.
Heraty (25-7) had good defense behind her. She took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. She got the first two outs before Maggie O'Brien reached on an infield single.
"We had a game plan coming in because it was the third time (Stevenson) saw us," Heraty said. "I was really working to get the ball to the spot. I actually had no idea about the no-hitter. It was great. But our team had to do what we had to do to win. My defense was doing good. When they make the plays, it makes me pitch better and hit my spots more."
Stevenson (12-16) touched Heraty for a couple of runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Patriots loaded the bases with three straight hits from Vera Pflugradt, Emma Oriatti and Mic Faunce. Trisha Porzycki's fielder's-choice RBI broke the shutout, before Alyssa Pauly's groundout plated another rub.
Libertyville added three more runs in its half of the sixth inning.
The Dayton-bound Heraty went the distance, allowing 4 hits. She struck out five and hit one batter.
Stevenson had showed resiliency in games all season but couldn't mount a serious challenging after falling behind 6-0 to the North Suburban Conference champs.
"This whole season, I've referred to our team as the comeback kids," Stevenson coach Alex Vikartofsky said."We've gotten ourselves into some sticky situations early on and had some nice comeback wins. For better or worse, we're used to fighting back. You can sense that in our dugout. There wasn't one time that we didn't think we could come back."