Softball: Late explosion does it for Burlington Central
Burlington Central finally broke loose.
The Rockets scored 5 runs in the sixth inning to defeat Woodstock North, 8-3, in the Class 3A Central softball regional Wednesday.
Peyton Curtis' 2-run triple drove in the winning runs, and Reili Gardner hit a run-scoring double in the big inning. But a couple of less eye-catching hits were also a big part of the inning. After leadoff hitter Lindsay Jamrozek reached on an error, Maisse Rabe laid down a bunt. Everyone was safe when Woodstock North pitcher Ellie Thurow overthrew first base. Later in the inning, Hanaa Nkhikhssi laid down a bunt to set up another run.
The Rockets (18-5) face defending state champion Marengo in the regional final on Friday. The Indians used some late heroics of their own to get past Marian Central, 2-1, in Wednesday's first game. The Rockets lost to Marengo once during the season with their second game last week rained out.
"It really comes down to small ball," said Central coach Erica Snyder. "We got the bunts down when we needed to. We executed them when it was most important. Maissie got that one down and then they had an overthrow, so we had runners on for Peyton to get that hit. It wouldn't have happened if they didn't get that done."
With the two runners on, Curtis drove a pitch from Thurow deep to center field and raced all the way around to third. She scored on a single by Sarah Schmitt and the belated rout was on.
"I just knew that I had to back up my pitcher any way I know how," Curtis said. "I had a lot of nervous energy and I just used it."
Alisyn Catenacci picked up the win in relief of Julia Barnes. Barnes was a force offensively with 3 hits and 3 RBI.
Jamrozek singled in a run in the first and Barnes drove in 2 more in the second as the Rockets jumped ahead. All the baserunners in those innings came with 2 outs.
Despite giving up 5 hits, Barnes held Woodstock North scoreless through 4 innings. The Thunder struck in the fifth with a 2-out rally of its own.
After Barnes quickly retired the first 2 hitters, Taeya Beard and Chloe Vermett singled. Thurow reached on an error, scoring 1 run, and Amaya Saldana drove in 2 more with a double to right center.
Catenacci escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, striking out Beard and getting Vermett to pop to Nkhikhssi for the final out. That seemed to give some momentum back to the Rockets, who looked a bit deflated after surrendering the lead, and they quickly went to work in the bottom half of the inning.