Softball: Crystal Lake South drops wild one at McHenry
Crystal Lake South was down to its last strike against McHenry when No. 4 hitter Dana Skorich hit a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the seventh inning to give the Gators their first lead.
The no-doubt home run over the left-field fence was a big blow to the Warriors' psyche, but also short lived.
"That shot, that brought us down. I could tell just by looking at them," Warriors coach Mikaela Mitsch said. "But once play started up again, they were ready to go. They all wanted to grab a bat after that."
McHenry responded in a big way in the bottom half of the seventh, stringing together seven hits, scoring four runs and ending a wild comeback win, 8-7, on a walk-off infield hit by Cooper Ten Bruin in the teams' Fox Valley Conference game.
Ten Bruin, who had also given McHenry (6-5, 4-2 FVC) the lead in the bottom of the sixth, 4-3, on a hit to score Kyra Lard, felt some nerves in her final at-bat but also knew that she had the full trust of her teammates.
"It was really stressful, but we have a lot of trust on our team," Ten Bruin said. "I know I can believe in my team, and they can believe in me, so I felt really confident going up there, actually. I knew I had to hustle as hard as I could, and it just worked out in my favor.
"We pick each other up really easily. We were so excited to go up and hit again."
All four of the Warriors' runs in the seventh came with two outs, and all seven hits in the inning were singles.
Ana Gerstung drove in Kiana Johnson with a single to right field, Abby Geis drove in Lauren Sena and Gerstung with a single to center, and, after a hit by Lard, Ten Bruin dribbled a soft grounder to Gators second baseman Evelyn Smith, whose throw to first base was a little late, to score Geis for the game-winner.
Mitsch said McHenry talks a lot about playing unselfish softball, which was on full display in the seventh.
"I'm just proud of them for everything that do," Mitsch said. "Selfish softball would be every one of them trying to hit a home run. But all of those hits were to the right side. That's team softball, from the beginning to the end."
Ten Bruin was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, Sena (2 for 4) had a double and two runs, Geis (2 for 4) had a double and three RBIs, and Lard (2 for 3) had a double and two runs.
Despite the loss, Gators coach Pat Kelly was proud of his team for battling back.
"It's one of those moments where you can't get much more excited than that," Kelly said. "That was awesome. It's fun to see [Skorich] find success and she's definitely starting to find her stroke. She's killing the ball. When she hits it, she hits it hard."
"I'm really proud of our girls for battling back. I feel bad we couldn't finish. That's a tough one, but it was a fun game."
Skorich finished 2 for 4 with five RBIs, Stephanie Lesniewski (2 for 4) had an RBI, Anna Wiggs was 3 for 4 and drove in a run, and Amelia Cervantes (2 for 4) had a double. Brooke Kuffel scored two runs.
Lard said Tuesday's win showed what the Warriors are all about.
"I think we just came in, and we were ready to fight," Lard said. "We scored four runs already, so we were ready to come back and fight. And that's exactly what we did. I think it's a big statement win. I think we're all pretty confident and we're ready to come out swinging."