Softball: Derkowski, Bingham lead York to regional championship
It's easy for the York softball team to rely on star senior pitcher Lauren Derkowski, a Michigan recruit who can make overpowering hitters look easy.
But for as good as Derkowski is -- a 16-1 record after Thursday's 6-0 regional final win over Downers Grove North -- even she needs offensive help.
That's where a player like junior third baseman Lindsey Bingham comes in.
Bingham went 4-for-4 with three singles and a double, a run scored and two runs batted in to pace the Dukes offense' Thursday.
Good thing, too.
York (19-2) left six runners on base in the first three innings before Bingham doubled in the fourth to drive in two runs and blow open what was a 1-0 game.
"I thought I just went after the first pitch, seeing if it was right down the middle or my kind of pitch," Bingham said. "It was just identifying it right away and just putting somewhere where they're not."
Derkowski proved she can hit a little, too, or make that a lot. She was the hitter after Bingham in that fourth inning and she crushed a 1-0 pitch over the 200-foot sign in dead center field, which gave her a 5-0 lead at the time.
Sure, the offense finally woke up in the fourth inning, but Derkowski played her part on the mound to a T. She gave up a single in the first inning to the Trojans' Peyton Janicki, and then retired the next 18 hitters in a row, nine via the strikeout. Derkowski finished with 10 strikeouts.
Was Derkowski a tad nervous with all those runners left on in the first three innings? Nah.
"Not really," she said. "It was just playing the game as usual, trying to let it go and focus on the batter."
The Dukes got further offense from junior first baseman Kara Jensen, who tripled in the second inning and scored on a single by senior catcher Rena Sotos.
As for Downers Grove North, which finished 11-12, coach Eric Landschoot has virtually his entire team returning next season. That includes freshman pitcher Ava Gusel, who struck out six in her own complete game Thursday. Take away that big fourth inning, though, and who knows what might have been?
"Honestly, I don't think when I'm out there," said Gusel, who will play club in the offseason for the Orland Park Sparks. "I just think, Let's get the next pitch, let's get the next out, and just do the best that I can."
Another returnee will be junior first-baseman/pitcher Bridget Callaghan, who doubled off Derkowski with two strikes and two outs in the top of the seventh.
"I was hitting off the tee beforehand, and I kept telling myself, I refuse to be the last out," Callaghan said. "So when I went up to bat, I knew she was going to hit me with some off-speed."