Softball: Makuh's walk-off in 11th gives Hersey regional title over Carmel

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent

With Hersey's graduation Sunday, junior Kylie Makuh wanted to give her fellow senior teammates an early graduation present on Saturday.

And she did.

With two outs, two strikes, and the bases jammed in the bottom of the 11th inning, Makuh smacked an RBI single to center field, scoring Savannah Gazda for a walk-off 4-3 victory over Carmel Catholic for the Class 4A Stevenson regional softball title.

"I was so nervous because I'd struck out a few times already," said Makuh, who fanned in her three previous trips to the plate.

"I just found a ball to hit. I really wanted this for the seniors. It felt amazing when (Gazda) crossed the plate and we had won."

Gazda had led off the inning with a double to the left-center field wall and went to second after a single by Makayla Tsagalis. Then, Brianna Luciano drew an intentional walk before the heroics by Makuh.

"This was exhausting," said Huskies coach Molly Freeman. "Kylie (Makuh) just gets in the box and swings and makes things happen."

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Hersey (24-6) moves on to play Mid-Suburban League champion Palatine at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the Palatine sectional semifinals. Hersey has never won a sectional title in softball. Palatine downed Mundelein 3-0 Saturday in the Palatine regional finals.

Saturday's game was a pitcher's duel after the first inning, when both teams scored a pair of runs in the opening frame.

Carmel Catholic (20-15) drew first blood in the top half of the first.

With two outs, Emy Krysa roped an RBI single to right, scoring Hailie Swiatkowski (walk) for the first run. Then, Kyla Rapplean followed with another single to plate Swiatkowski for a 2-0 advantage.

"We didn't make any mistakes and had some good pieces of hitting," said Corsairs coach Shane Schueneman, whose team was in its sixth straight regional title game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"But this was a great pitcher's duel. Both pitchers pitched well. We just didn't get that key hit and they did."

Fourth-seeded Hersey came right back in the bottom of the first.

With the bases loaded and one out, Ria Patel raced home on a wild pitch. Then, Chloe Gordon hit a sacrifice fly to plate Luciano, who earlier walked.

The rain let up by the start of the third inning, just in time for Jordan Swiatkowski to belt a towering home run over the right field fence and a 3-2 Carmel Catholic lead.

But Hersey tied things up 3-3 in the bottom of sixth when Patel hit a bloop single to short left field to plate Gazda, who earlier singled.

Both pitchers had settled in at this point and went all 11 innings.

Bailitz allowed only 5 hits with 3 walks and 15 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Schuda scattered 11 hits with 9 punchouts and 5 walks.

"This was a great atmosphere with two good teams. We're just trying to learn from it for next year," added Schueneman.

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