Softball: Schuler, Antioch headed back to state
After one inning of the Class 3A Kaneland supersectional on Monday, Antioch found itself in a strange position, especially in this postseason, when Sycamore took a one-run lead.
But junior Jacey Schuler took command in the circle and the Sequoits battled back for a 5-2 win and advanced to the state tournament for a second straight year.
"It's like the most amazing feeling ever," Schuler said. "From the beginning of the year I wanted to do it for the seniors. That's what I've said the whole time. I think it's super-exciting for us to go back-to-back to state."
The Sequoits (32-1) will face Charleston in a semifinal on Friday in East Peoria, with a potential rematch against Lemont looming in the title game. Lemont beat Antioch in a semifinal last year before winning the title.
"Going out on a high, we're ready," Schuler said. "Our goal is to beat Lemont in the state tournament, and that's what we're shooting for."
Emily Brecht drove in three runs for the Sequoits, including one on a triple in the top of the first. Schuler added an RBI triple to tie things up at 2-2 in the third -- and both runs that scored on those triples reached on errors.
Antioch also took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Eden Echevarria tripled and scored on an error. Brecht capped the scoring with a two-run double in the top of the seventh.
Sycamore (29-11) had been strong on defense all year, said coach Jill Carpenter. And they made some great plays Monday, the coach said. She pointed out a ball Brecht hit after Schuler's triple in the third that went off the glove of pitcher Alyssa Wilkerson to shortstop Keera Trautvetter. She came home with the throw and Kairi Lantz made the take to keep the game tied at 2-2.
Schuler took a no-hitter into the sixth and allowed just two hits, singles to Kaitlyn Williams and Brighton Snodgrass. She struck out nine and walked two.
The Spartans scored two without a hit in the first when Addie McLaughlin walked and Tia Durst bunted. The throw from Schuler went wide of first, allowing McLaughlin to score and Durst to get to third.
Lantz followed with a popup that scored Durst for a 2-1 Sycamore lead. Wilkerson would keep the Sequoit bats at bay. She allowed seven hits. She walked no one and struck out two.
The loss closes the book on Sycamore's postseason run, the program's longest since winning the state title in 2019.
Echevarria had two hits and scored twice for Antioch, Brecht had three RBIs and two hits and Jazzy Fisher had a pair of singles.
Antioch won their first four playoff games by a combined 44-1. Only five of the Sequoits' games since April 21 have been decided by three runs or fewer. Coach Anthony Rocco said Monday's win was a good test heading to state.
"It's good to be challenged," Rocco said. "We kind of cruised those first three or four games, so to speak. It's good to get a good push out of it."
"This was our goal from Day 1, to get downstate for the second year in a row," Rocco said. "This team is incredibly talented. The depth we got, good team chemistry. We're just excited to get back downstate."