Softball: Antioch continues dominating postseason run
Antioch's softball team continued its playoff roll on Tuesday afternoon, defeating Vernon Hills 9-0 in a Class 3A Carmel Catholic sectional semifinal to expand its postseason run differential to a cartoonish 39-0 and its overall record to a gaudy 31-1.
The top-seeded Sequoits won a pair of 15-0 games in regional action last week and will face either second-seeded Carmel or third-seeded Wauconda for a sectional championship Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Host Carmel (23-5) faces Wauconda (26-9) in the second sectional semifinal on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
"We kept pressure on their defense all day," said Antioch coach Anthony Rocco, who guided the Sequoits to a third-place showing at the Class 3A state tournament last spring. "Our defense was flawless, we got contributions from everybody in our batting order, and Jacey (Schuler) gave us another elite pitching performance."
Schuler, a junior, was stellar again from the circle, amassing 13 strikeouts in a 3-hit shutout. She didn't walk a Cougar en route to upping her record to 17-1 and lowering her ERA to 0.97 in sunny, hot Mundelein.
"She's amazing, hardworking and always smiling," said Antioch freshman right fielder Jadynn Ruiz, who went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs, including an RBI double to open the scoring in the bottom of the first inning.
Ruiz's run-scoring single to left-center in Antioch's 3-run fourth inning made it 6-0.
"I like her approach at the plate," Rocco said of his poised rookie, who bats No. 2 in his order. "She's patient and super consistent."
"Jadynn," added Schuler (2-for-4, RBI), "is awesome. She's scrappy in a good way."
Sequoits senior center fielder leadoff hitter Eden Echevarria and junior designated player Jazzy Fisher each struck for 3 hits. Fisher hit an opposite-field triple to left in the second frame and scored on junior Aubrey Ultsch's two-out single.
Antioch catcher Grace Green, second baseman Emily Brecht (double) and first baseman Samantha Hillner each knocked in a run for the victors.
Fourth-seeded Vernon Hills (16-21), featuring only two seniors, won its first regional championship since 2018 last week. Courageous Cougars junior righty Samone Stevens pitched 3-plus innings with a torn right labrum (a season-long injury) on Tuesday. VH junior center fielder Shyanne St. Louis recorded the only extra-base hit off Schuler, doubling in the fifth, and senior Amanda Teschky played sparkling defense at shortstop.
"Our record is deceptive because I scheduled tough opponents to get us ready for the postseason," VH coach Jan Pauly said. "Hats off to Antioch, which is a poised, experienced team that likes to pressure you with aggressive base running. I'm proud of how we competed today. We didn't get run-ruled (10-run mercy loss) against an outstanding team."