Softball: Sbarra's walk-off single sends St. Charles East to state
The suddenness of it was as unexpected as it was dramatic.
The St. Charles East softball team, the home squad on the scoreboard at Monday's Class 4A supersectional at the Ballpark in Rosemont, went into their at-bats in the bottom of the seventh tied at 2-2 with Whitney Young.
And when the first two Saints batters made outs, the contest almost assuredly looked like it was headed to extras.
Then just like that came walk, walk, single -- and now St. Charles East is heading to state with a walk-off 3-2 victory.
Right fielder Krista Sbarra had the big base hit for the Saints, while teammate Chelsea Campagna scored the game-winning run on some alert baserunning.
"I just gotta go," said Campagna of her mindset as she scored the run that sent East to the state Class 4A semifinals, where they'll play Joliet West on Friday at East Peoria's EastSide Center. "I had to be safe and as soon as Krista hit the ball I just sprinted."
The Saints shook off some early miscues in the field to score the win.
"We made some mistakes tonight that were uncharacteristic of the way we've played all season," said East coach Jarod Gutesha, "but we battled. Our kids could have crumbled and felt sorry for themselves and let this game get away but they didn't. They're a group that fights, fights, fights, and they support and cheer each other on all the way."
Whitney Young grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the third, scoring on a Saints error.
St. Charles East took the lead in the fourth on RBI hits from Maddy Stout (a double) and Lauren Luna, but the Dolphins knotted it up in the sixth on a double and an East overthrow at third.
Then in the top of the seventh, Saints pitcher Katie Arrambide bore down, getting out of a jam that saw Whitney Young put runners on second and third with only one out.
Arrambide got the next two batters on a line drive to short, a great catch by Kati Gheorghe, and a pop-up, setting the stage for the bottom of the frame.
"At that point I totally had faith in my defense," said Arrambide. "We never got down. I told my teammates in the circle, 'if there's anyone that can do this it's us'."
Campagna started the 2-out last inning rally with a walk, and Gheorghe worked a base-on-balls as well.
Then Sbarra hit a shot to deep short. The senior had the throw to first beat, and when the ball bounced away from the Whitney Young first baseman, Campagna adeptly raced home all the way from second base with the winner.
"As a senior leader," said Sbarra, who will play softball in the fall at UW Whitewater, "I wanted to do whatever it took to get that last run. No one wants it more than this team right here, and our pitcher (Arrambide) is just amazing. She didn't deserve to lose tonight."
Arrambide struck out 7 in the complete game victory.
"Katie is something else," said Gutesha. "The way she competes is second to none. She's a great athlete, she's got spirit and she just wants to win. The kids around her support her and she supports them."