Softball: Burlington Central rolls to Slugfest championship
Burlington Central exploded for 51 runs on Saturday to win first place in the Larkin Slugfest softball tournament held at the Elgin Sports Complex.
The Rockets overwhelmed Elgin 22-1 in the tournament opener, rallied to beat Bartlett 11-9 in the semifinal and rapped out 18 hits in two innings to beat Larkin, 18-4 in the championship game.
Jacobs also staged a comeback to edge Bartlett in the third-place game, 10-9 with a bottom of the seventh walk-off hit.
Central coach Scott Richman was just happy to play.
"It's been a rough year. The first game this morning was our fourth game of the year. We've had so many rainouts. Other teams have had upwards of 10 games already," said the Central coach. "It's about time we're we got some games in."
"They got to our pitchers. They started hitting the ball," Larkin coach Anne Vogt said. "Unfortunately, we didn't respond with our bats. That was the bottom line."
The Royals (7-2) jumped out to an early lead in the game, scoring runs in the first and second innings. Freshman Kaitlyn Neubert's 2-run home run over the right field fence put Larkin up 3-0 when Central (4-2) came up to bat in the bottom of the second.
"I want to say she hit .750 on the day if not more," Vogt said about Neubert, who was one of Larkin's three picks for the all-tournament team. "Her bat is just hot and she's also playing great defense."
Thirteen Rockets went to the plate in their half of the inning. Capped by Lauren Knief's 2-run blast over the center field fence, Central scored nine runs on 10 hits and an error.
Knief, a senior, went to the plate just hoping to end a hitting drought.
"My hitting has been in a slump today, so I switched to my old bat -- my almost broken, completely cracked bat -- and it actually worked in my favor," Knief said. "I just needed a complete change. I wanted to do anything I could to get out of my slump and it worked."
Larkin got one run back in its half of the third.
Central had another big inning in the bottom of the third, scoring nine more runs on eight hits and a Larkin miscue.
Everyone in the Rockets starting lineup got a hit and scored in the title game.
In addition to offensive output, Richman was pleased with defensive play of second baseman Anna Sanders and shortstop Rylie Duval,
"You can't go wrong with the middle of our infield. Anna and Rylie are the rock of our defense," he said. "They play shortstop just as good as anybody as I have seen."
Freshman call-up Allie Botkin also made a favorable impression on Richman.
"She pitched in game one and she came out here and started the championship game and she gave a phenomenal effort," said the Central coach.
Sanders, Duval and Botkin were all named to the all-tournament team.
Larkin had a similar path as Central to the title contest. The Royals downed St. Edward 13-3 in their first game and edged Jacobs 3-2 in the semifinal.
"Kailey Cronin pitched a heck of a game against Jacobs and drove in the winning run," said Vogt.
Cronin along with teammate Mya Bermudez were also named to the all-tournament team.
At one point, Jacobs (5-5) trailed Bartlett (5-6) by seven in the third-place game but battled back.
"We threw three different pitchers to throw their hitters off balance." said Jacobs coach Katie O'Brien. "Our hitters then just started hitting and hitting is contagious."
Golden Eagle Aria Patel, who had the walk-off hit, and pitcher Caitlin Cook represented Jacobs on the all- tournament team.