Softball: Libertyville's early lead holds up vs. Stevenson
Taking an early 4-0 lead over visiting Stevenson proved to be a real positive for host Libertyville when the Wildcats faced the Patriots in the North Suburban Conference softball finale for both teams Tuesday afternoon.
Libertyville (15-16, 8-6) scored 4 runs on 3 hits against Stevenson starting pitcher Aubrey Jepson in the first two innings before holding off the Patriots in the late innings to capture a 4-1 NSC victory.
Stevenson (9-13 overall) will have a chance to get some revenge on its archrival Wildcats next week when the No. 9-seeded Patriots host No. 8 Libertyville in the regional semifinals.
The Wildcats' road to victory Tuesday started in the bottom of the first inning when Samantha Whisenand walked, moved to second on a fielder's choice by Zoe Kinsella, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead. Kinsella wound up scoring on a dropped-third strike as she was able to race home from third base to make the score 2-0 after one inning.
In the bottom of the second, winning pitcher Finley Olsen reached base on an infield error before scoring on a one-out double to left field by leadoff hitter Adriana Callahan for a 3-0 advantage. Libertyville's Campbell Clarkson walked and scored on a fielder's choice RBI by Whisenand for a 4-0 lead even though Stevenson was able to get out of the inning with a 6-3-5 double play just after Clarkson crossed home plate.
"The big difference tonight compared to yesterday was our mindset and how we approached the game," said Libertyville coach Sean Ferrell, whose team was outhit 5-3 in the contest. "We competed, our bats kind of went to sleep, and the key for us is playing good defense."
Stevenson senior relief pitcher Olivia Ringham was outstanding on the mound as she entered the game in the bottom of the third and did not allow any runs or hits in 4 innings of work. The only baserunner Ringham allowed was when Anna Mitchell reached based on an infield error to open the bottom of the fourth.
"Olivia did a great job. That was amazing to see her find her groove again, and she came into a tough situation trailing 4-0," said Stevenson coach India Steward. "We just had a rough start, and we started to string together some hits in the end."
No. 8 hitter Sophia Becker led off the top of the fifth with a single to left field for the Patriots before moving to second base on a sacrifice bunt by teammate Megan Orgler. Becker scored on a fielder's choice RBI by Abbie Lewis to cut the lead to 4-1. Olsen left Stevenson's Elle Ruchin stranded on third base to end the inning.
The Pats tried to put together a potential game-tying rally in the top of the seventh as Orgler and Ruchin both singled with one out. But Olsen got the final two batters out to seal the victory.
"I give her (Olsen) a ton of credit. She's not going to back down no matter what the situation is, and she doesn't get flustered," said Ferrell, whose team is 2-0 against Stevenson this season. "Sam (Whisenand) is in her second year playing shortstop, and she's a steady, tough kid."