Two-run blast powers Andrew

Updated: May 29, 2011 3:40PM

The Andrew softball team knows it is blessed to have the Christner sisters.

Kelly Christner showed why, hitting a two-out, two-run homer to account for the game’s only runs as Andrew defeated Lincoln-Way East 2-0 Saturday in the Class 4A Lincoln-Way East Regional title game.

Brooke Hofer did the rest, firing a four-hit shutout.

The win was the 25th in the last 29 games for the Thunderbolts (27-9), who will face Homewood-Flossmoor, a 4-1 winner over Stagg, in the Lockport Sectional semifinals on Thursday. East lost for the fourth time in six games and finished the season at 21-8.

“On the way over (assistant coach) Mary Ventrella and I were saying that we knew we’d need a big hit out of Katie or Kelly Christner,” Andrew coach Jim Holba said. “Kelly took care of that.”

Christner slammed the first pitch from East’s Kacyee Hart for a line-shot homer to right and a 2-0 Thunderbolts lead in the top of the third. It was the fifth round-tripper of the season for the sophomore center fielder and it scored Shannon Rust (2-for-4), who had a one-out bloop single to right and was sacrificed to second by Dani Bestwina.

“I wanted to be aggressive and I was,” Christner said. “When I hit it, I thought it might go over and when it did I was just really excited. I knew the game was changing momentum then and things were going our way.”

Hofer, a junior right-hander, made sure the momentum stayed with Andrew. The Griffins had their leadoff hitter on in the first and fifth, but after sacrificing her to second both times, they could not come up with the big hit.

East had another opportunity in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Jill Reid (3-for-3) looped a one-out single over third and Carissa Ernat followed by coaxing the Griffins’ only walk of the day. Facing the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Hofer beared down and got two strikeouts to end the inning. She then retired the side in order in the seventh.

“That was nerve-racking,” Hofer said of the sixth. “I knew I had to get them to hit it on the ground, or get strikeouts, and that’s what I did. We were really pumped up for this game and we are playing well at the right time.”

Hart (16-6) took the loss. She allowed three hits, walked two and struck out three in four innings. Freshman righty Sarah Esposito finished up, allowing three hits with no walks or strikeouts in the final three innings. Neither team made an error.

The two SouthWest Suburban teams are in separate divisions — the Thunderbolts won the Red title — and didn’t meet in the regular season. Andrew captured its second straight regional title and eighth in 10 seasons, while the Griffins failed to win a regional for only the third time in their 10-year history.

“You have to credit Kelly Christner,” East coach Katie Meader said. “She’s a tremendous hitter and we knew that. But still at that point it was 2-0 and there was plenty of game left for us to come back.”

East’s other hit was a single by Megan Butler.

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