Softball: Palatine nails down MSL West crown
Palatine's softball team was coming off Senior Day when Schaumburg visited on Monday.
"Senior Day (15-2 win over Resurrection on Saturday) was emotional, but a lot of fun," said four-year starter Grace Huff, who was honored on Saturday along with Emily Parrott, Anna Selleck and Amanda Stanczuk.
Huff and Company had some more fun on Monday, along with making some history by posting a 6-0 shutout over the Saxons.
The Pirates won the Mid-Suburban League West title for the first time since the conference began its championship game in 1974.
Palatine (24-2, 15-0) has a two-game lead over Barrington (26-5, 13-2) with one game to play.
"I'm really excited," said Parrott, whose mother Tammy, also a standout shortstop, played on a MSL championship team for Prospect. "It's the first time we've done this in school history for softball. It's crazy, last year we went to state (third in class 4A) for the first time and now we're going to the conference championship game for the first time."
The Pirates visit East champion Hersey at 5 p.m. on Thursday for the title.
They'll try to complete a perfect 16-0 West record on Tuesday when Prospect visits for a 4:45 p.m. game.
"We've been working really hard, especially these last few years to build on the things we could do," Huff said. "And a lot of the girls really excelled in their positions this season. We've just kind of been on a roll."
Huff has been on a roll with her bat, and Monday was hardly an exception as the sure-handed center fielder went 2-for-2 with a home run, double and sacrifice fly for 4 RBI.
The other RBI was provided by leadoff batter Kaitlyn Reed when she homered to left center just two batters before Huff's blast in the Pirates' 3-run third inning.
The Pirates also scored when Mandy Logan reached on an error and Reed raced home from third base to score her third run of the game.
Junior left-hander Rhiann Dick took care of the rest.
The Pirates' ace ran her record to 21-1 by tossing a 2-hitter with 8 strikeouts caught by catcher Selleck.
Dick faced only 23 batters and did not allow a runner past second base.
Saxons shortstop Talia Torosian belted a double to right with two outs in the fourth inning and senior teammate Tatiana Cooper led off the fifth with a single.
"I thought our defense was really consistent," Palatine coach Nicole Capalbo said. "And whatever outs Rhiann gave us, we made those plays."
Second baseman Kayla Courtney made two nice catches on difficult pop-ups and shortstop Parrott provided a nice running catch over her right shoulder in shallow center to retire the first batter of the game.
Offensively, it was Huff's 11th homer of the season and No. 5 for Reed, who went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and her home run. Stanczuk also had a hit for Palatine.
"We scored when we had runners on base,' said Capalbo. "I thought we were really aggressive on the bases when we put the ball in play. Our two home runs were line drives and I didn't know with the wind today if we were going to hit any out."
Saxons sophomore pitcher Lauren Nielsen went all 6 innings and recorded three hitless innings.
"I just want to say congratulations to division champion Palatine," said Schaumburg coach Ellen Abreu, who guided the Saxons to the 2015 MSL crown. "I thought their pitcher did a good job keeping us off balance. I also thought we made some nice plays defensively."
"This (winning the West) was another goal we had at the beginning of the season," Capalbo said. "Everyone believed we could do it and it's nice that we don't have to share it and we can be the ones to represent the West in the title game."