Softball: Grayslake North walks off Buffalo Grove
The postseason started this week and the Grayslake North softball team is picking up right where it left off in the regular season.
Winners of 13 straight coming in the Knights took care of business once again, this time eliminating a gutsy 12th-seeded Buffalo Grove squad 7-6 in a Class 4A Warren regional semifinal in Gurnee Wednesday.
No. 6 seed Grayslake North (26-9) moves on to play the host and third-seeded Blue Devils on Saturday at 11 a.m. for the regional title. Ironically, the Knights' last loss was to Warren in mid-April.
"Elevate and celebrate," said Knights coach Lea Corcoran on how she likes to see her team at the plate. "We've been hitting and pitching well and our defense has been outstanding."
All of those came to fruition Wednesday but not without drama.
Grayslake North trailed 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning. There were two outs and one strike left in a potential season-ending game and Knights senior Ashton Moore knew what to do.
"Just drive the ball as hard as I can," said Moore after her walk-off double sent Buffalo Grove home for the season.
"Being a senior, I didn't want to be the one to end the game."
"We like to make it interesting," added Corcoran, whose team has 6 walk-off wins to its credit this season.
With two outs, Jess Pozezinski reached on an error. That was followed by an infield single from Alyssa Carr, whose shot came back to smack Bison pitcher Megan Fontanetta in the hand and inner thigh.
"She's a bulldog and heartbeat of this team," said BG coach Starr Dorsey, whose team finished the year 11-15. "We started playing our best softball towards the end. Next year we're going to stress that you have to play the whole season."
Then came Moore's heroics and Pozezinski and Carr raced home.
Buffalo Grove stunned the Knights with a 3-spot in the top of the first.
"We preached jumping out to the early lead and we came ready to hit," added Dorsey. "We battled hard and left it all out there. I just feel bad for the seniors."
Angelina Craig roped an RBI double to score Fontanetta (single). Sam Hansen and Kylie Mainville also had RBI singles.
Grayslake North plated a run in the bottom of the first when senior Grace Brown laced an RBI single to right, scoring Evan Garrett, who had walked.
The Knights drew even 3-3 with another 2-spot in the bottom of the second.
Winning pitcher Scout Kram hit a sacrifice fly to plate Moore (reached on an error) and junior Faith Standerski roped an RBI double to the wall in left-center to score Caitlin Barenbaum, who also reached on an error.
Meanwhile, Kram relieved starter Gianna Certa and tossed 5⅔ innings of 4-hit ball with 8 strikeouts to improve to 8-0.
An RBI single by Elle Christou and a 2-run inside-the-park home run by Fontanetta helped BG regain the lead at 6-3 after the top of the fourth.
Grayslake North cut the deficit to 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth after two illegal pitches extended the inning and Hughes smacked a 2-run double to plate Standerski and Kram.
Fontanetta (6-5) took the loss on the hill, tossing 4-hit ball over the final 3⅓ innings.
"We just try to never let up or give up," added Moore.