Softball: Dani Goranson, Elk Grove put away Jacobs earlyJacobs' Maggie Hansen (left) tags out Elk Grove's Elisa Payne trying to steal second base during their 4A super sectional softball game at Judson University. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 10:03PM
It became evident from the start of Monday night’s Class 4A supersectional at Elgin’s Judson University that Dani Goranson and her Elk Grove teammates would leave nothing to chance.
Goranson ripped a leadoff double for the Grenadiers to start a three-run first inning, then the Michigan State-bound right-hander threw a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts for a 4-1 victory over Jacobs that gave Elk Grove’s seven seniors a return trip to state.
“Taking the momentum right away definitely helped us,” said Goranson (26-7), who pitched for the 2010 Elk Grove team that finished third in the state.
Megan Keegan’s RBI single, a sacrifice fly by Krista Soesbe and a Jacobs error on a relay throw led to the three quick runs and Goranson did the rest in the pitching circle.
“We won her two years ago (in the supersectional) and this was kind of a nice little deja vu,” said longtime Elk Grove coach Ken Grams. “This place has been nice for us.
“I think it was important for us to score early. We kind of made that our little goal and it helped.”
Jacobs came right back at Goranson in the second inning with a run on Nicky Chapa’s leadoff triple to right and an illegal pitch call against Goranson, which acts like a balk does in baseball. Last year Goranson had a costly controversial illegal pitch call against St. Charles North in sectionals and the Stars ended the Grens’ season. This time, Goranson just shrugged it off and struck out the side, then came back and struck out the side in the third inning, as well.
“You’ve just got to pretend it never happened and bounce back on the next pitch,” Goranson said.
The Golden Eagles battled, but could just get two more hits to aid losing pitcher Katie Kirker (6-2), who will be throwing at Judson next season.
“We knew it be a low-scoring game,” Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer said. “I just think that the runs had to be low and to give up the three in the first, I wouldn’t say it deflated us but we knew it would be an uphill battle after that. I do like way girls fought back against a pitcher that good.”
Jacobs (25-15) actually had the tying run on base in the sixth when it loaded the bases on singles by Kaitlyn Woloszyk and Courtney Cotugno, and a walk by Alyssa Lach. But Cotugno got called out for interfering with Soesbe at shortstop on a two-out grounder hit by Nicky Chapa and the inning ended.
Goranson, who set up the Grens’ fifth-inning run by doubling before Becca Maher’s RBI single, set Jacobs down in order in the seventh. She got the last out, appropriately, by a strikeout and it triggered the Grens’ celebration.
“She’s definitely No. 1 of all (the pitchers) we’ve seen all season,” Jacobs’ Chapa said of Goranson. “Speed, movement, her rise ball is nasty — she’s got everything.”
Goranson jokingly admitted to some mixed emotions after the win.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said, laughing. “My travel team (Illinois Bashers) is going to Florida and I get to go to state. So I’d rather take state.