Softball: Kaneland rallies past Yorkville for regional crown
Updated: May 26, 2012 5:26PM
A 1-0 pitchers’ duel through four innings gave way to a parade of runs in Saturday’s IMSA Class 3A regional final with Kaneland coming from behind twice to survive league rival Yorkville 9-5.
“We usually close games well, but give Yorkville all the credit in the world, they didn’t quit,” said Knights’ coach Brian Willis, whose 31-6 team is 3-0 vs. Yorkville this season.
Top-seeded Kaneland sent 11 batters to the plate and rallied for six runs in the bottom half of a sixth inning that wouldn’t seem to end. It erased a 5-3 deficit after the No. 2 Foxes had batted around and scored four runs in the top half to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
“We know what the girls are capable of at this point in the season,” Willis said. “If we stay relaxed and disciplined at the plate, we know we’ll hit. I wasn’t worried we wouldn’t score. I was just worried we were giving some runs to them.”
Yorkville first baseman Sarah Saffold staked sophomore pitcher Rachael Owens to a 1-0 lead in the third when she belted a Delani Vest offering over the fence in left center field that didn’t need the help of the wind gusting out to straightaway right field. Her third home run of the season was one of only two hits allowed by the Knight senior (20-3) through five innings.
“Delani (Vest) is a great leader in the pitcher’s circle. She got several of our hitters out of balance,” said Yorkville coach Kathi Dockstader. “It’s not like she’s overpowering, but she hits her locations and she’s in control of the game.”
The Foxes’ used a gimmick defense against several of the Knights’ fleet lefty slap hitters who like to put the ball in play and force the defense to make a play. Left fielder Amy Wilson would move to first base, playing on the bag allowing Saffold to move in and center fielder Courtney Thomas would slide over to left center.
“They’ve been playing us that way all year,” said sophomore Lexi Roach, who made the Foxes pay in the fifth. She capped the three-run rally by slapping a sharp, two-out single into that gap in suddenly-vacant center to score a pair of runners from first and second.
“I just figured, ‘This is my time to hit.’” said Roach, who finished with two hits and three RBI on the day.
“That was a big play,” admitted Dockstader. “She put it in one of the spots that were left open, but we got a lot of outs on (the maneuver). We were using it against two of their left-handed hitters who struggle to hit it to the outfield. You may have noticed we didn’t use it against (slap-hitter) Vest, who will stay back and drive the ball.”
Allyson O’Herron had three hits to lead the Knights’ 13-hit attack while Paige Kuefler, Roach and Sarah Grams added two each. Kaneland was held to four hits through four innings before exploding for nine in the final two innings.
Yorkville’s sixth-inning runs all came with two outs. Courtney Thomas and Heidi Dockstader each delivered two-run singles up the middle for the Foxes, who close the season 19-17.