Softball: Lake Park outlasts Elk Grove in 9
The bottom of the lineup was top-notch for Lake Park Wednesday at the Class 4A softball sectional semifinal at Glenbard West.
Lancer batters 5 through 9 had 6 of the 8 Lake Park hits in an extra-inning 4-2 win over Elk Grove.
Freshman Breanna Caper, who hits in the No. 8 position, had 3 hits, was on base four times and scored twice in the victory for the Lancers.
Caper drove in the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning for the Lancers, who move on to play St. Charles East for the sectional championship Friday at 430 p.m. in Glen Ellyn.
"They really came through today," said Lake Park coach Tom Mazzie of the lower part of the order. "They kept getting on base and putting the pressure on.
"And Natalie was Natalie," said Mazzie of pitcher Natalie Grubczak, who went all 9 innings for the win. "She's a D-I pitcher for a reason. She spins it, commands the zone and keeps us in games."
Morgan Leach led the Grenadiers' offense with a pair of hits, a double and a single.
"We had a couple chances. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. "The bottom of the order for Lake Park was our nemesis. That was the better part of their lineup today.
"I thought our pitcher (Olivia Masnica, who went the distance) was terrific today. She had an inning where a couple of pitches got away from her, but that's part of the game."
Elk Grove struck first in the bottom of the fourth, scoring twice on RBI from Katia Pendowski (a run-scoring triple) and Alyssa Trausch.
"At that point I was like 'there's still a lot of game left,' " said Grubczak, a senior who will be playing for the Hofstra University softball team in the fall. "We knew what we had to do, and we got it done."
Lake Park (23-11) loaded the bases in the fifth and tied the game at 2-2, with both runs scoring on wild pitches. Caper and Brianna Pisauro scored the runs for the Lancers on some adept baserunning.
Elk Grove had a chance to win it in the eighth when Leach hit a two-bagger and got to third with two outs. Then Pendowski belted a grounder that looked it might get through, but it was speared by Grubczak, who threw to first just in time for the putout.
In the top of the ninth, Caper drove a pitch through the infield and all the way to the fence for a triple, plating Abbey Frank.
"I was just trying to get the ball in play," said Caper. "I was so pumped up to round the bases and get my teammate home."
Senior left fielder Alexa Frale followed that up with a single to make it 4-2.
"I was a bit nervous, but I knew if I focused I'd be able to do it," said Frale, who will enroll this fall at the University of Iowa to study elementary education. "I feel we all just need that one (good) at bat -- everyone was hunting to get on base to have the big play, and we all executed today."
Grubczak put the Grens down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win, striking out the final batter.
Frank (the No. 5 hitter) had 2 doubles, while Frale (batting ninth) was on base twice.
"They (Elk Grove) are a great team," added Mazzie. "They were the two seed, we're the three seed so you expected this kind of game. They were as advertised, and their pitcher (Masnica) was as good as we've faced all year.
"We always feel like if we put three or four runs on the board we have a chance. Even when we've been down in games this year we've found a way to fight back. Our kids will bunt, hit, do whatever it takes and whatever we ask them to do."