Softball: Crystal Lake South rallies from 6 down to beat Burlington Central
Crystal Lake South pitcher Kennedy Grippo fielded a slow roller off the bat of Burlington Central's Makayla McEwen and shoveled the ball to first baseman Molly Cook for the last out in the top of the seventh inning.
Grippo and the Gators, who at one point trailed by six runs before rallying for seven in the bottom half of the sixth, celebrated an improbable, 13-12 victory Monday between the Fox Valley Conference teams.
"In the beginning of the year when we were struggling, that's a game that I don't know if we come back," South coach Pat Kelly said. "When you have some success and start putting some wins together, it just takes one great inning to put the pressure on.
"What a game."
South (9-16, 6-12 FVC) needed just about everybody to complete the comeback victory, with sophomore Dana Skorich, who started the game at pitcher before going to catcher, knocking in the tying run with her second hit of the sixth inning.
The Gators scored seven runs (five unearned) on seven hits in the sixth with No. 9 hitter Alexis Cervante, Alexis Pupillo, Grippo and Skorich each getting theirs with two outs. All seven of the hits in the sixth went for singles.
Skorich guided a base hit into right-center field, scoring Pupillo from third. The game-winning run (Grippo) scored all the way from first as the Rockets had trouble getting the ball into the infield.
In the top of the seventh, Grippo allowed a leadoff double to Burlington's Lauren Knief but retired the next three batters to preserve the win.
Skorich, who earlier in the game hit a two-run homer, said she was only focused on bringing in the tying run.
"I just wanted to get the [tying] run in because that's all that mattered at the time," said Skorich, who went 3 for 5 with five RBI. "I saw how close of a game it was, and everyone was pumped up. Everybody was up in the dugout, dancing and having fun.
"I was glad to see all the energy back."
Skorich started and gave up six runs (five earned) in four innings. At the plate, she had three run-scoring hits.
"How many people do you see being a pitcher and the catcher in the same game?" Kelly said. "She is such a versatile player for us. She found success early in the game with the home run, and she just keeps finding success."
South finished with 14 hits, and Central had 15. The teams combined for 10 errors.
For the Gators, Pupillo went 2 for 4 with a double, three runs scored and two RBI, Grippo (2 for 4) had two runs and two RBI, and Stephanie Lesniewski (3 for 5) had a double and a run. Gabby Toussaint was 2 for 4 with a double and two runs, and Molly Cook and Anna Wiggs each drove in a run.
Burlington (12-9, 9-9) looked well on its way to a win after scoring seven runs on five hits in the top of the fifth to take a 12-6 lead. Savannah L'Huillier (2 for 5, four RBI) and Makayla Larson (2 for 5) both had two-run singles in the inning as the Rockets sent 11 to the plate, with five of the seven runs unearned.
Knief was 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBI for Burlington, Danielle Durckel had three hits and an RBI, Anna Sanders scored three runs, and Alyssa Becker and Rylie DuVal (1 for 5, double) both scored a pair of runs.
Burlington finished its FVC schedule at .500, while South went 6-4 over its final 10 conference games after losing its first eight. The Gators have three nonconference games remaining before the postseason begins next week.
"I just hope we can keep this good energy going," said Grippo, who earned the win in relief. "The dugout really felt like a community today. Everybody was cheering. If we keep that going, we can keep winning."