Softball: Wheaton Academy hold on to top Aurora Central
Updated: May 16, 2012 8:38PM
Aurora Central’s breakout softball season appeared to be on the verge of ending in a bustout Wednesday in the semifinal of the Class 2A Plano Regional.
After 3 1/2 innings, the second-seeded Chargers were staring up at an 11-0 deficit to third seed Wheaton Academy, a team they had beaten twice in Suburban Christian Conference play. A slaughter rule decision seemed imminent the way Warriors’ pitcher Michelle Ridderhoff was cruising.
ACC rallied to within 11-9, though, and had the tying runs in scoring position when the final out was recorded by the Warriors, who are now 10-18 and advance to Saturday’s 11 a.m. title game against top-seeded Lisle. The Chargers finish 19-13.
“I’ve done everything this week to try to keep them loose,” ACC coach Jim Hallahan said of his team. “It’s always my fear having to play a team three times in a season and three times in a short span like we have. (Wheaton Academy) just came out hard.”
ACC struggled in the field, first with their communication and then simply catching the ball. The Warriors played small ball to score three runs in the first, added three unearned tallies in the second and only one of four runs in the third were earned.
Losing pitcher Sarah Ryan gave up 14 hits, including four to sophomore shortstop and Radford University verbal commit Marissa Gagliano, but six of the runs were unearned.
ACC rallied for four in the fourth, one in the fifth and four more in the seventh. Hard-hitting freshman shortstop Gabi Alfaro lined a two-out, two-run single to center in the seventh to pull ACC within the final margin, but Ridderhoff got the last out on a popup to third base.
“We looked at all the things they beat us with (the first two meetings) and tried to correct them,” said Wheaton Academy coach Laura Frost, whose young team has seven freshmen, five sophomores and four upperclassmen.
“They got their bunts down and we tried to take that away and they also hit a lot of outside pitches. Michelle did a nice job pitching and we’ve worked on our defense.”
Jenny Alderman led ACC’s 13-hit attack with three, while Alfaro (three RBI), Dani Blake and Allie Lundquist had two hits each.
“The first three innings the defense wasn’t talking and on offense, we were swinging at a lot of first pitches,” said Hallahan. “I think she had three innings where threw maybe just seven or eight pitches. She’s a good pitcher and a tall girl with long legs and it almost seems like she’s in your lap when she’s done with the pitch. The girls battled back, though.”