Softball: Kaneland capitalizes on Rosary errors
Rosary’s softball team was done in again Wednesday by its Achilles heel — defense — in its 10-0 six-inning semifinal loss to Kaneland in the Illinois Math & Science Academy Class 3A Regional.
“Obviously, two keys to the game that I’m gonna talk about are their first three runs were scored after there were two outs, and then, the three-error (and four-run) fourth inning,” said Royals coach John Kazmierczak, whose team closes 15-22-1 after committing five miscues.
“That was the ball game.”
The top-seeded Knights looked the part in climbing to 30-6 and advancing to Saturday’s 11 a.m. title game against Northern Illinois Big 12 East Division rival Yorkville.
Kaneland put the ball in play off losing pitcher Cara Smoczynski (10-11), ran the bases aggressively (5 steals) and was stout on defense.
Senior catcher McKinzie Mangers got a second chance in the first inning when her two-out popup was dropped in front of the Knights’ dugout and made the most of it. She then grounded a single up the middle just out of shortstop Maddie Merritt’s reach to drive in Allyson O’Herron and Lanie Callaghan and stake winning pitcher Delani Vest (19-3) to an early lead.
In the second, Sam Hansen lined a two-out single to right, stole second and came home on a slap single to center by Vest.
“We didn’t really have the opportunity early in the game to work on our small ball, but toward the middle innings we got a couple leadoff batters on and then started playing around with it a little bit, putting pressure on the defense,” Kaneland coach Brian Willis said.
Vest gave up some hard hit balls but finished with a two-hit shutout with five strikeouts. She started a 1-6-3 double play on a comebacker after a walk to Lauren Murray in the second, and she also got a force at second on another after Rosary tried to bunt Victoria Phipps to second after she had led off the third with a single.
“We’ve been emphasizing not just giving up that base out there (at second) and today, the work we did in practice paid off,” Willis said.
Sam Phelps had the other hit for the Royals, who pushed only two runners as far as second base.
“Even at 3-0, I thought we were in the game,” Kazmierczak said. “We hit the ball well. We were making great contact but the ball carried today with the wind and they had a nice catch in left on a ball hit by Cara (Smoczynski) and another (by Phelps) to right.
“Kaneland has got some good team speed and it seemed like we were a step and a half slow today.”