Softball: Bartlett, Tori Burke nail down sectional title

Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith may have coined the perfect nickname for his ace pitcher Tori Burke on Saturday without even trying.

“She’s been ‘nails’ all year long,” Wolfsmith said at the Class 4A Lake Park Sectional in Roselle.

Burke proved tough as nails once more when the Hawks needed it in the championship game against top-seeded Glenbard North, and she outdueled Purdue recruit Lilly Fecho in a 1-0 Bartlett win. The victory put the Hawks (30-8) in Monday’s supersectional at Rosemont Stadium (4:30 p.m.) against Maine West.

“That’s probably one of the best hitting teams we’re going to face this year,” Wolfsmith said about Glenbard North. “I think ESPN has them ranked 20th in the nation. They can hit the ball and when they get runners on second base that’s a scoring opportunity for anybody in their lineup.

“And Tori just really did a good job of moving the ball, hitting her spots, pitching from behind in some cases ... really, just a great job.”

Burke (19-6), who has committed to play at Cardinal Stritch, had shut out West Chicago on four hits Friday and came back without a day between to throw a three-hit shutout at Glenbard North. Burke struck out 13 even though the strikeout isn’t necessarily her calling card. She walked one and benefited from a defense that committed only one error while making several big plays behind her.

“I think of myself as pitching it where it needs to be in certain situations,” Burke said. “I don’t want to say I’m a dominant pitcher, but I try to focus on each batter for the entire game.”

Bartlett’s lone run came in the sixth on Alex Morales’ line-drive RBI double off the fence to score Andreanna Taormina from second, and the Hawks were able to avenge their 1-0 March 29 loss to Glenbard North.

“I think we’ve all been pumped up for this game,” Burke said. “Bartlett-Glenbard North, it’s like one of the rivalries out there. So we just practiced our butts off and we made it through every game.”

Burke set Bartlett down in order until the bottom of the fourth, when leadoff hitter Bri Harn spoiled her no-hitter, but that threat went nowhere when Burke struck out the side.

Glenbard North (34-3) got two runners into scoring position during the game. In the fifth, Stephanie Campos had a leadoff single and was sacrificed to second. But a nifty catch of a foul near the fence by third baseman Sydney Johnson and Burke’s strikeout of Kelsey Mueller ended the threat.

In the sixth, Burke faced her biggest threat when Bri Harn singled leading off and moved to second when the Hawks got careless with the ball after the hit. Burke struck out Alex Caliva, but walked Fecho.

“I wasn’t going to lay something juicy in for her because, I mean, look at her swing,” Burke said of North’s No. 3 hitter. “I had to be careful.”

So she struck out cleanup hitter Sydney Benz looking to end the inning.

The only other North scoring possibility came in the seventh. But with two out, Heather Sperlazzo lined one deep into the gap in left-center. Left fielder Alex Morales went to the ground to make the catch while avoiding an outfield collision that might have meant extra bases.

“Our center fielder was calling for it but I thought I had a better view so at the last second I called her off and just kind of came out with it,” Morales said of the game-ending play.

Morales’ game-winning hit didn’t come without controversy. Fecho (27-3) thought she had strike three called one pitch before Morales lined a curve for her RBI double, but the umpire saw otherwise.

“I thought it was a little high, maybe outside,” Morales said.

“You can’t really complain about that (call),” Fecho said. “But I thought it was (a strike). I was ready to be done with that inning.”

Stephanie Tomazin had produced her second pinch-hit single in two games for the Hawks to start the rally after one was out. Then she moved up on Kaylyn Zierke’s ground out to first before Morales’ game-winning RBI.

Fecho didn’t want to blame the strike call for the loss.

“They were a good team,” said Fecho, who allowed six hits and struck out five. “I feel like just the name of the game is we didn’t really hit, myself included.

“I feel that’s a big part of the game. You can’t win with getting no runs.”

Bartlett beat its next opponent, Maine West, 13-0 earlier this season.

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