Softball: Kaneland's Erickson fires 1-hitter at Yorkville
With Lauren Howard on top of her game for Yorkville, Kaneland ace Emilee Erickson had no margin for error as the two talented teams battled for the early lead in the final Northern Illinois Big XII season Tuesday in Maple Park.
Erickson was up for that challenge and then some.
The junior lefty hit her spots all afternoon, holding a Yorkville team that entered at 13-1 to 1 hit while striking out 14 and walking none in Kaneland's 1-0 victory.
Jory Regnier's Yorkville squad had scored 21, 7, 11, 7 and 11 runs in its previous five games before being completely stymied by Erickson.
"A lot of our success this season has been hinged on Lauren being good on the mound," Regnier said. "Lauren did her part but offensively we just didn't put the bat on the ball. Erickson kept us on our toes for sure. She's got great movement and she's coming from the left side. We got jammed up a lot."
Yorkville (13-2, 0-1) didn't get a hit until Teaghen Amwoza's leadoff single up the middle leading off the seventh.
Erickson quickly retired the next three hitters to end the game, the final out coming on a ground ball to second baseman Donatela Sommesi.
"I kind of thought it was going on but I was trying not to think about it," Erickson said of her no-hit bid. "I was more focused on keeping them from scoring the last inning. Mostly just trying to paint those corners because they are really aggressive hitters and they attack the ball."
Besides Amwoza's seventh-inning single, the only baserunner for the Foxes came when Amwoza reached on an infield error in the fourth. Erickson ended that inning by striking out the next two batters.
Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler was most pleased that Erickson threw her complete game with just 106 pitches.
"Last year she was really tall with her pitch count," Kuefler said. "She's definitely working around that zone a little tighter this year. Her confidence even from last year, her confidence continues to grow. The walk after each pitch slows down a little bit and it's a little more confidence in that walk. She's controlling the game and controlling the tempo."
Kaneland (7-2, 2-1) scored the only run in the third. Sommesi reached on a one-out infield single and scored on Rose Roach's double to right field.
The Knights had chances to add on with 7 hits, but Howard struck out 10 and pitched out of trouble.
"I was happy we were able to put runners on the base swinging the bat," Kuefler said. "Our small ball wasn't as crisp as we wanted today. Lauren is a great pitcher. You always like to compete against those kind of kids. Only makes us better down the road."
Sommesi went 2-for-3 for last year's Class 3A state runner-up Kaneland, who returns to conference play Thursday against DeKalb before playing a pair of DuKane Conference schools -- St. Charles North and Batavia -- Friday and Saturday.
"This was really important for building momentum starting conference," Erickson said. "It's helped our confidence. We expect a lot out of each other. Now we feel like we can do this. It seems like a long road back to state but we're ready."