Softball: Kaneland stays unbeaten in conference play with win over Yorkville
They’re halfway there.
Kaneland completed a perfect 5-0 run through the first half of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East schedule with Tuesday’s 8-3 win at Yorkville behind freshman Paige Kuefler and senior Delani Vest.
“We like to put the ball in play. We work on our fundamentals. We’ve got pretty good team speed and that puts pressure on the other team,” Kaneland coach Brian Willis said. “When we do those things well and put runs on the board, we’re pretty hard to beat.”
The Knights are 17-5 overall. The host Foxes drop to 11-5 overall and 3-2 with their other league loss coming to second-place DeKalb.
“They scored a run in the first and we matched it, but in the second they scored four runs and you can’t let teams get that far ahead,” Yorkville coach Kathi Dockstader said. “It puts too much pressure on everybody. Not that it can’t be done, but it just makes the game tougher.”
The Knights sent nine batters to the plate and scored those four runs on only one hit, an RBI single by Kuefler, which was one of her three hits. Everybody else, though, put the ball in play and the Foxes made a pair of errors and another mental error that proved costly.
Yorkville did pull within 5-3 on Gabby Rowe’s two-run triple into the right-center field gap off winning pitcher Vest (11-2) in the bottom of the second, but the Knights senior hurler settled down and threw five scoreless innings after that.
“I was having trouble hitting my spots,” said Vest, who drove in two runs herself with a slap single and fielder’s choice grounder.
“They’re a very good hitting team and I definitely left a lot of pitches out over the plate.”
She scattered six hits, struck out six and walked four. Two of those free passes led off the third and prompted a conference with Willis.
“I just wanted to break the pattern and settle her down,” he said.
It worked, as she proceeded to get out of the jam, with a popup, fielder’s choice grounder and strikeout.
“Offensively, I didn’t think we did a very good job,” Dockstader said. “I think we had 12 outs that came on popups or strikeouts and only challenged them six times as far as fielding the ball and that kind of tells the story of the game.”
Sophomore Corrine Rowe had two doubles for the Foxes, while McKinzie Mangers and Lexi Roach added two each for Kaneland. Rachael Owens took the loss in the circle, falling to 8-5.