Softball: Leerschen, Glenbard South stay focused against Fenwick
Jocelyn Leerschen didn't stop to watch her first-inning home run sail just over the Fenwick left-fielder's glove. She just put her head down, ran and looked for her coach.
It was a good example for the rest of her Glenbard South teammates, who didn't stop to admire Thursday's 6-2 victory against Fenwick in the Class 3A Benet softball sectional semifinals until it was complete.
In other words, the third-seeded Raiders had a feeling they would meet top-seeded St. Francis in the sectional final, as they so often do, but they didn't take it for granted. The championship game is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner moves on to the supersectional at 4 p.m. Monday at Rosemont Stadium.
"We've been talking about playing in that game against St. Francis for the whole season, so we're excited that we made it to try to achieve one of our goals of winning against St. Francis and making it all the way down to state," Leerschen said.
Leerschen's homer gave the Raiders a morale-building 2-0 lead.
"I think it gave my team confidence to know that if one of the seniors could hit the ball, then they could hit the ball," Leerschen said.
Fenwick never caught up, but the Friars did threaten in the second inning. They pushed a run across on a bloop hit that just eluded diving shortstop Grace Wallner behind third base. But Raiders pitcher Daniella Little got one of her 12 strikeouts to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
Second-seeded Fenwick didn't score again until the seventh inning, when Fenwick leadoff hitter Elena Vaccaro powered a solo home run to center field. The run meant little.
"Ella worked very hard and I'm very proud of her," said Leerschen, who nearly hit another home run in the seventh inning on a ball that just hooked foul. "It's really hot out and she is our main arm on the team. And she did really well on the mound."
The Raiders also got a boost from leadoff hitter Jessica Villa. The junior singled four times in the game and scored 3 runs, including touching home ahead of Leerschen on the home run.
"For Villa to go up and just put the ball in play and use her wheels and set the table is huge too," Raiders coach Julie Fonda said. "But (Leerschen) is a great hitter, obviously, and I don't think they too her for granted, but she battled in that at-bat and got her pitch and sent it over. From there it was the belief, right? So you flip the switch and let Ella do her thing."