Softball: South Elgin rallies to defeat LarkinLarkin's Kieman Schock (20) pitches during their game against South Elgin at South Elgin High School on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. | Kevin D. Sherman ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 17, 2012 9:05PM
Both Larkin and South Elgin came away from Tuesday’s Upstate Eight crossover softball game feeling like they’d won after each had two-run, seventh-inning rallies.
However, it was South Elgin which actually got to count the “W,” 7-6, when Kara Rodriguez’s hard grounder was misplayed for an error to score Victoria Watt with the winning run after Paige Allen’s RBI single had tied it.
“We were able to get a lot of our bunts down today and started just getting that big hit when we needed it,” South Elgin coach Jason Schaal said. “And we were fortunate enough to get a few breaks go our way to walk out of it with a win — we did what we needed to do to get the victory.”
Winning pitcher Sam Bolin (6-6) had shut down the Royals for 4 1/3 hitless innings after Larkin had gone ahead 4-3. And South Elgin rallied with two in the fourth to lead before Larkin’s bats awoke in the top of the seventh. Lexi Smithberg hit a one-out single, Maggie Hoffman singled and Alex Buhrow knocked an opposite-field double down the line in left to score the tying run. Nikki Banks’ hot liner off the glove of Storm third baseman Sam Helton for an RBI single put the Royals ahead 6-5.
“This for us, it was a win,” Larkin coach Anne Vogt said. “I know the scoreboard doesn’t say it, but we came out here and for the first time came from behind today. We battled — a couple times we came from behind and we haven’t been doing it.
“We’re considering this a little transformation into the second half of the season and maybe we’ll make something happen from here.”
The Royals’ winning rally included a perfect bunt single by Watt after Helton led off by reaching on an error. Then Megan Librandt put down her second perfect bunt of the game for a sacrifice and Allen’s single blooped over the infield into right to tie the game. Then Rodriguez hit a hot shot to short off losing pitcher Kiernan Schock (3-12) for the error that let Watt score the game-winner.
“One big thing we’ve focused on in practice has been our bunts because we hadn’t been able to get them down earlier in the year, and I’m proud of them for that today,” Schaal said.
Larkin led 1-0, South Elgin rallied in the first for a 3-1 lead, Larkin led 4-3 and South Elgin took a 5-4 lead in the fourth when Librandt put down her first big sacrifice attempt. Watt had singled leading off the inning, then Librandt put down a bunt that she beat out, and when Watt tried to go to third the throw went all the way down the left-field line, enabling Librandt to go all the way around the bases after a bunt that went 6 feet in front of the plate.
“We shuffled around our defense today and that might have been a factor,” Vogt said of Larkin’s three big errors in the final four innings.
Bolin’s 11-strikeout, nine-hit effort included only one walk. But she admitted wearing down in the seventh after dominating from the last out of the second through the sixth.
“I was pitching better, but our defense kind of picked it up after the first few innings,” she said. “But I was probably a little tired in the seventh. I was feeling it a little but once again, my defense helped me out.”
South Elgin (7-13, 3-3) didn’t have an error after the second inning.
Once again red-hot Alyssa Buddle wielded a hot bat for the Storm. Easily their most consistent hitter this year, she went 4-for-4 with a first-inning RBI double. Kelsee May went 3-for-4 and Watt 3-for-3.
For Larkin, Smithberg, Hoffman, Buhrow, and Banks had two hits each. But the bottom four hitters for Larkin (3-15, 0-5) went 0-for-12 against Bolin.
“Our goal now is just to get back to .500,” said Schaal.