Softball: Antioch survives scare from Lakes on Gilmore's walk-off
Syerra Gilmore had a lot on her mind when she strolled to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning on Tuesday afternoon.
The Antioch junior reflected on her last two at-bats, both outs to center field, including getting robbed of a potential extra-base hit in her first plate appearance.
"My past two at-bats I hit straight to their center fielder, and I knew she very good, so I was trying to be a little late or a little early to get it off from center field," Gilmore said. "I was right on time before in my at-bats. I just thought my anxiety is through the roof right now, so I'm just going to try and put the ball in play because I normally power those balls."
Gilmore lived to her words. She took a patient approach, smacking a grounder up the middle to plate the winning run to lift No. 1-seed Antioch to 1-0 win over No. 11-seed Lakes in the Class 3A Lakes Sectional semifinal. The Sequoits (27-3) were pushed to the limit by the Eagles (7-20) but prevailed due to Gilmore's first career walk-off hit to advance to Friday's sectional championship game against either Wauconda or Cary-Grove.
Gilmore joked that her walk-off carried extra meaning because she was unaware of the winning run scoring. The Sequoits took advantage of an infield error and a sacrifice bunt to set the stage for Gilmore's heroics.
"I didn't think I hit the walk-off because I saw the girl throw the ball to the infield, and I was trying to take second base but I saw everyone come out of the dugouts," she said. "It was great to see all the girls so happy. It just made my day."
Antioch sophomore ace Jacey Schuler (18-2) pitched a complete game gem, allowing one hit and striking out 14 batters and walking one batter to keep the Eagles from mounting any significant threats.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game, but I just tried to work on my spin and my spots," Schuler said. "I was just trying to get outs. This win feels amazing. It's good we had good energy the whole game, and it paid off."
The Sequoits managed just six hits off Lakes pitcher Cassidy Berchtold, who also had Lakes' lone hit of the game. The right-hander worked her way out of several jams, including getting a bit of luck. Berchtold (8-11) fanned two batters in six-plus innings.
Antioch junior Eden Echevarria, a Wisconsin recruit, smacked a home run to right-center, but the run was waved off when she missed a base during her home run trot after an appeal. Grace Green led the Sequoits with two hits.
"We've been the No. 1 team in the state the last eight weeks, so we're going to have a bull's-eye on our backs," Antioch coach Anthony Rocco said. "We're going to see everyone's bests. I'm glad we executed when we needed to, but in the end, we got the job done. We're two wins away from state. The biggest thing for us is we have to get our offense going."
Lakes played better than its seeding, but fell victim to some bad luck late in the game.
"We showed a lot of heart today because nobody gave us a chance to be here," Lakes coach Bill Hamill said. "We hung with them pitch-for-pitch today. I will guarantee they wouldn't want to play us again. You have to take your hat off to the girls. The outfield ran down everything. I"m looking forward to what we have coming back next year. We're losing some good players."