Steelmen capitalize off Astros’ errorsEmily Ramel of Shepard with the put out at second against Joliet Central. l Gary Middendorf~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 23, 2011 10:06PM
Shepard picked the wrong time to forget how to play defense and Joliet Central picked the right time to pick up its third win of the season, as the Steelmen defeated the Shepard 10-5 in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A Shepard Regional.
No. 14 seed Shepard (11-19) committed six errors in the final two innings, leading to nine runs for No. 17 seed Joliet Central (3-22), which is in its first varsity season since 1993. Sitting at 2-22 before the game, Central was more than willing to take the Astros shaky defense.
“Its very easy to just give up when youre 2-22, but these girls didn’t,” Central coach Erin Douglas said. “Everything turned in the sixth and seventh innings.”
“They made a couple errors and allowed us to get back in and our defense didn’t allow anything after the first inning.”
Central struck first in the top of the first inning when Miranda Lawson scored on a ground ball Franchesca Graffeo bobbled at shortstop. Shepard would answer right back, sending nine hitters to the plate and scoring five, two-out runs in the bottom half of the first. Emily Ramel had a two-RBI single, Devon Neubauer had an RBI double and scored on an error and JNaye Bridgeforth had an RBI single in the frame.
Both Neubauer for Shepard and Alexandra Curry for Central would settle down on the mound. Neither allowed a run until the top of the sixth inning.
With one run across on a Lawson double and the bases loaded with two outs, Central reeled off three straight hits to score four runs and take the lead 6-5. Paloma Singeltary had an infield single to score one, Monica Borrego hit a shot that took a bad bounce on Graffeo at short scoring two and Kim Benegas had the go-ahead RBI single to give the Steelmen a 6-5 lead.
“Its great to put your team up,” Benegas said. “We never thought it was over.”
“Sandburg doesnt faze us. We’ll play them just as hard.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the seventh, Shepard committed three straight errors, resulting in four more Central runs which blew the game open. After the first inning, Curry gave up one hit to keep the Steelmen hopes alive and it paid off.
“If I fall then the team falls,” Curry said. “If there’s no pitching then we have no chance, so I had to keep going.”
Central will take on top-seeded Sandburg Tuesday in the regional semifinals.
For Shepard, the Astros will hope to see growth from its youth for next season.
“It’s definitely not the way we wanted it to end,” Shepard coach Kelsey Clifford said. “It was nothing new for us.”
“So often during the season we would go up and then beat ourselves down. But were young, so hopefully our youth this year will pull through for the next few years.”