Softball: No tears for Antioch after stunning 5-inning loss to Marengo
Having won 105 varsity softball games in four seasons, Antioch's Piper Foote doesn't laugh off losses.
And the senior shortstop didn't Tuesday after she and her teammates lost to Marengo by the stunning final of 19-4 in a semifinal of the Class 3A Wauconda sectional.
But by the time Antioch's coaches and players were done talking in left field after the game, players emerged wearing smiled. They laughed, hugged and reflected on another successful season. Foote and fellow seniors Megan Lawrence, Avery Malicki and Abby Pyburn clowned around with each other and posed for a fun picture, jumping on each other.
They had just lost in five innings, something that never happens to them.
"This is really the only game where we just fell apart," Foote said after going 1-for-2 in her final high school game. "It's nice to leave a season knowing that every game we came to play. I mean, we (seniors) left with four regional titles. That's something to be proud of, and three out of four of us are playing somewhere (in college). So it's hard to look back and cry."
While top-seeded Antioch ends its season at 27-6-1, No. 4 Marengo (23-15) looks forward to its next opponent. The Indians advance to Friday's 4:30 p.m. sectional final against the winner of Wednesday's game between No. 3 Grayslake Central and No. 10 Marian Central.
"I had (Marengo) voted as the No. 1 seed in the sectional because of how tough a schedule they played," Antioch coach Anthony Rocco said. "They go out and play a brutal schedule. They had a heck of a year, so I don't put anything past them."
Marengo gave Palatine (the top seed in its own Class 4A sectional) one of its 2 regular-season losses. The Indians also beat Woodstock North, which tied Antioch.
"We have 15 losses, but we've played some really, really good teams in the state," Marengo coach Dwain Nance said. "It really prepared us for moments like this."
Marengo jumped on Antioch and starting pitcher Jeri Bonaguidi immediately, scoring five times in the top of the first inning. The Indians used squeeze bunts by cleanup hitter Grace Houghton and then Lauren Aubry to plate a pair of runs, before Mikayla Wzientek hit a 3-run homer.
Antioch responded with 4 runs in the bottom of the first, getting 2-run singles from Pyburn (1-for-2) and Rilee Schreiner (2-for-2). But Marengo erupted for 11 runs in the second, as its first 11 batters all reached base and scored. Wzientek had a 2-run double, and No. 3 hitter McKenna Skow twice bunted for hits in the inning.
"We just didn't execute," Rocco said. "Things fell apart defensively. They turned our own medicine on us. We're known for being a bunting, fast team. We got too deep in a hole, and they just took it right to us. You got to hand it to them. Marengo played great."
Marengo successfully executed 4 squeeze bunts and got 3-hit games from Jenna Turner and Aubry (homer, 4 RBI).
"I like being visitors just for the fact that you have a chance to score first," Nance said. "I think our leadoff and No. 2 batters (Hannah Ritter and Turner) did a great job of a getting on base, and then we did a good job of getting some bunts down."
Marengo starting pitcher Brooke Behrens retired eight hitters in a row after Antioch pulled within a run in the first.
Foote is off to play softball at Western Illinois, second baseman Pyburn is DePauw bound, and left fielder Lawrence is headed to UW-Stevens Point.
"It's humbling in a way," Foote said of the lopsided loss. "We come in and we do that to people. When we do that to people, we're respectful about it, and (Marengo) was very respectful about it the whole time to us. That's all you can really ask for."