Softball: Warren rallies from 8 down in 7th, beats Palatine 16-15 in 10 innings
Trailing 11-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning of its own Class 4A sectional semifinal on Wednesday, Warren's softball team staged the comeback of a lifetime in Gurnee.
Make that two.
They scored 8 runs to tie the game at 11 in the seventh, then fell behind 15-11 in the top of the eighth before tying it again at 15-15.
Finally, in the bottom of the 10th, a bit of 'déjà vu' presented itself as No. 3 seeded Warren scored the winning run for a 16-15 triumph over No. 7 Palatine.
Just like in the nine-inning 3-2 win over Prospect five days earlier for the regional title, it was senior Gabi Olavarria with the walk-off hit to drive in classmate Camryn Vawter.
Against Prospect, there were no outs when Olavarria delivered. This time, there was one out when she lined a single to left center to drive home Vawter, who had doubled off the right-field fence as the previous batter.
The Blue Devils (25-5) will face top-seeded Buffalo Grove (25-5) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday for the title.
"One hundred percent our greatest comeback that we've been involved in," said Vawter, who is committed to Triton College. That was unbelievable. It was crazy. It was a good game. We really fought and I'm really proud of how the girls didn't back down."
Palatine (17-15) surged ahead 11-2 after five innings.
Sophomore Holly Steffus' fourth homer of her young career was a grand slam to left center in the fourth that made it 9-2. Jolie DeValk (3-for-5) clubbed a 2-run homer to right to make it 11-2 before Kaitlyn Weidemann got the hosts to within 11-3 with a homer to center in the fifth.
That's how it stood until the Blue Devils exploded for the 8 runs in the dramatic seventh, capitalizing on 3 errors, a walk, hit batter and singles by Vawter and winning pitcher Sydney Jackson (2 hits including a double).
It was Lily Barrara's 2-run single that tied the game at 11-11.
"Everyone just got on base, did their job and sent it off to the next person," said Warren coach Jenna Charbonneau. "And that's the best you can do. I kept asking Sydney, 'Do you still want to go? And she said 'yeah'. She's a pit bull and she wanted the ball in the circle. She wanted to finish. And her teammates came through for her.
"Palatine did a great job. They hit real well one through nine. They played really well defensively. I can't say enough good things about them."
Leading the Pirates offense were Angie Delgado (3-for-6, 2 RBI), Nicole Marceau (2-for-4, 2 walks, double, 2 RBI), catcher Grace Adame (2-for-3), DeValk (3-for-5, 3 RBI), Steffus (2-for-5, 5 RBI) and Lindsay Plourde (3-for-5), who made an outstanding catch while running to her left in left field to rob Nikki Peter (2-for-5) of extra bases in the ninth inning.
Right fielder DeValk also made a terrific throw home to Adame to wipe out a run at the plate in the second inning.
DeValk is one of seven graduating seniors for Palatine along with Lauren Dettloff, Marceau, Payton Westphal, Priscilla Miramontes, Kelly Tobin and Tori Nolan.
"I feel really sad for these seniors because we came so close to winning," said Pirates coach Nicole Capalbo. "They were in eighth grade the last time we won a regional so they brought the program back up to being a team that people fear and get a little nervous about playing. They were phenomenal leaders on and off the field. They are great students, great teammates and all the girls got along so well on and off the field which you don't always see. They truly played for each other and were not about individual stats.
"I definitely think we went out on top, We had seen glimpses of really good softball from this team all season and when the playoffs hit, I think we put it all together."