Softball: Kaneland's quick start leads to win over Sycamore
With two outs and one on base, the Sycamore softball team was poised to start its game against Interstate 8 rival Kaneland by holding the potent Knights' offense scoreless.
But Izzy Stombres blooped in a double, the next two batters got hits, and the Knights had their only multi-run inning in a 6-2 win over the Spartans on Thursday.
"I think we started off really well there," Stombres said. "I think situationally [we] hit well and just made good contact."
Olivia Stoker started the inning with a bunt single and moved to third on a pair of groundouts. Stombres blooped her double in just out of the reach of Sycamore shortstop Tia Durst on the edge of the grass, then Jenna Harper and Katie Congoron followed with hard-hit singles for a 3-0 Kaneland lead.
"Trying to get it on the ground is vital," Stombres said. "Trying to make contact, get it to the right side of the field, but most of it is to just make sure you make contact."
Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter said the Spartans (5-4, 1-2) were out of position against Stoker to start the game.
"I don't know if we would have got her out if we had everything lined up where we were supposed to," Carpenter said. "We got the next two outs then it was a little dinker, and then they got a couple good hits in a row right after that and mark three times. It's hard to give Grace [Algrim, Kaneland starter] a three-run lead and feel good about it."
Algrim threw a gem for the Knights (8-2, 4-0), scattering five hits and striking out nine. Only one of the two runs she allowed was earned.
"She took down quite a few good hitters on that team," Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler said. "Tia Durst, Paige Collie -- she did a good job getting them out."
The Spartans were down, 4-0, in the third when they broke through with an unearned run. Thea Boubin started things off with a single, then got to third on a one-out bunt single by Addie McLaughlin. Collie hit a liner to second base that was mishandled, and although they got a force out, Boubin was able to advance.
Sycamore could have scored more that inning but Stoker made a leaping catch running toward the fence to take a hit away from Brooklynn Snodgrass, and Abby Latka made a diving play in right to prevent a hit by Durst.
"Our outfielders, they work hard," Kuefler said. "I finally found a couple outfielders that aren't afraid to lay out and get dirty in the grass."
The Spartans reached on a pair of two-out errors in the seventh, but Algrim escaped the jam for the win. On Friday, the Knights topped the Spartans, 12-2, in Maple Park, and Carpenter said she liked how the team played this week compared to last.
"We've been swinging the bats well, but Grace is the ultimate equalizer," Carpenter said. "When you face a very good pitcher, they have no problem sometimes making you look silly. ... I like what we've been doing offensively, the pitching has been better of late and defensively we've strung together a few good games overall. So we're on the right track overall where we want to be heading into the end of the season."
Hailey VonSchanse had the Spartans only extra-base hit, a double in the fourth. She scored on a single by Chelsea Born.
Becca Allen pitched six innings for the Spartans, allowing 10 hits while striking out three. Addison Dierschow pitched a perfect seventh against the middle of the Kaneland order.
"I thought our pitchers kind of kept us in the game," Carpenter said. "I think Kaneland kind of muscled a couple of hits that happened to find holes and stuff like that. You hate getting hit by those little bleeders, they just find a way to find the hole and make a difference."
Stoker was 3 for 3 for the Knights, while Stombres and Latka had two hits each. Stombres and Harper each drove in two runs.
"We came out hot at the beginning and then sat back on our heels a little bit at the plate and let them inch back into the game," Kuefler said. "But Grace did a great job on the mound and took care of it for us."