Softball: Warren thwarts Buffalo Grove's comeback bid, wins 2nd straight sectional
When Buffalo Grove found itself down 10-1 in the sixth inning in Friday's Class 4A sectional final against host Warren, the Bison gave it their best shot at imitating the Blue Devils from two days earlier.
That's when No. 3 seeded Warren came back from an 11-3 deficit in the seventh inning to defeat Palatine 16-15 in a 10-inning semifinal.
Top-seeded BG (25-6) staged a similar big comeback with 7 runs in the bottom of the sixth to get to within 10-8 before Blue Devils ace Sydney Jackson got an insurance run in the top of the seventh and then shut the door in the bottom half of the inning for an 11-8 victory and second straight sectional title.
Jackson and her fellow 10 seniors will head to the Barrington supersectional on Monday at 7 p.m. to face the winner of Saturday's Hononegah sectional final between Barrington and Huntley.
After Kaitlin Weidemann completed a 3-for-4 day with a solo homer over the left center field fence to give Warren (26-5) the 3-run lead in the top of the seventh, Jackson retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to finish her 5-hitter with 6 strikeouts.
All 5 hits came in BG's sixth-inning rally that included 2 apiece from Kate Ryan (RBI double) and Hannah Hull (2-for-2, 2 walks) and a 2-run single by Jenna Kosnoff.
"I knew at the end of the game I just had to dig down deep, have confidence in my defense behind me and try to finish as strong as I could." said Jackson, a Winona State recruit who took a no-hitter into the sixth.
"She did it at the end," said ninth-year coach Jenna Charbonneau. "She is a tough kid, a pit bull and we knew that after that big inning they (Buffalo Grove) were not going to settle in and that they'd keep coming. We had a couple of bad bounces defensively our way in that sixth inning and that made for a long inning, But Sydney went back out there in the seventh and was about as good as she could have been. And that's all you can ask for is that she returns and bounces back better than she did before."
Before Jackson threw her first pitch, BG gained a 1-0 lead, capitalizing on 4 walks and a sacrifice bunt by Leah Hampton in the top of the first.
Left-hander Ryan (12-5), who retired the first six batters she faced, drew a bases-loaded walk for the 1-0 advantage.
"We started the game the way we wanted when we got the bases loaded," said BG first-year coach Martha Kelly. "But the problem was that we only got 1 run."
Warren's Angelina Perez opened the bottom of the third by reaching on an error and came home on a two-out single to right by Weidemann. Two batters later, Hannah Conger (3-for-4) made it 2-0 with a single to left to score Weidemann.
"Hannah did a great job at the plate," said Charbonneau of the Wisconsin recruit.
The Blue Devils added 3 in the third. An RBI triple by Weidemann brought home Perez and Gabi Olavarria, and Nikki Peter (2-for-4, double) also scored.
Conger doubled off the right field fence and scored in the fourth to make it 6-1 before the host scored 4 times in the sixth, highlighted by Conger's 2-run double and a 2-run single by Camryn Vawter to make it 10-1.
"I said to them before the bottom of the inning 'Do you think they're (Bison) just going to sit back? Did we two days ago? I said 'No one is going to sit back at this stage of the season. It's not going to happen.'"
The Bison made their big inning happen with 12 girls coming to the plate and taking advantage of 2 walks, a hit batter and 1 error along with 5 hits.
"I'm very proud of the fight the girls showed because we had an opportunity to tie it up in the sixth," Kelly said. "But it was just too big of a hole. It just didn't happen for us. We played great all season and honestly we just had one bad day and unfortunately it was today."
Kelly called it a memorable group.
"They are fantastic girls up and down the lineup," said Kelly, also the varsity cross country and girls basketball coach at BG. "They came to practice every day wanting to win and work hard. They are great people off the field as well. We had a lot of fans here with their friends, other coaches and teachers who came out to support them because of the great people they are. The senior group (Kosnoff, Hull, Ryan, catcher JJ Jakosalem and Alyssa Fontanetta) set the standards by winning three regionals, a MSL championship and finally getting to a sectional championship this season.
"Now the standard has been set and we've talked to the younger girls about how they have to learn from the older ones and come hungry to want more next year."