Korth, North Stars edge TreviansPeoria IL 6/10/11 New Trier and St. Charles North face off in the IHSA 4A Semi-Final game in Peoria. St. Charles won the game 2-1 on a walk off homer in the seventh inning. St. Charles North's Annie Korth is all smiles after hitting the game winning home run. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2011 10:09PM
EAST PEORIA--Annie Korth is like the seen-it-all catcher played by Kevin Coster in “Bull Durham.” Every time up, she has her own internal monologue about anticipating a pitcher’s tendencies.
“I was telling myself I needed to be more patient up there,” the St. Charles North catcher said. Whatever she said, it worked.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the senior drilled a first-pitch over the centerfield fence for the walk off home run that catapulted the North Stars past New Trier 2-1 in a classic Class 4A state semifinal Friday night at EastSide Centre.
The North Stars (32-3) advance to meet Moline in Saturday night’s Class 4A state title game.
Korth’s shot ruined an otherwise brilliant performance by the Trevians’ Brigit Ieuter (17-8). The junior ace struck out seven, gave up no walks and allowed the feared North Stars’ line up just four hits. Her coach, John Caldwell, called it the finest performance of the year.
“She’s thrown no-hitters this year,“ he said.
Ieuter certainly caught the attention of her opposite number, Sun-Times’ Player of the Year Amanda Ciran.
“She was fantastic,” Ciran said. “She had this kind of drop-curve, where the ball looked like a strike and you’d go after it and then it drop off sideways. She got a lot of to go for that.”
Korth jumped on the first pitch. “Every time up she threw a first pitch strike,” Korth said. “I knew I had to be ready for that, and that she would probably give me something good to hit.”
Korth’s blast also atoned for her only mistake of the game, a passed ball with the bases loaded the enabled New Trier to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. With the ball loose, Caldwell also sent the second runner, shortstop Ryan Lee home.
St. Charles North shortstop Natalie Capone, backing up the play, chased the ball down and threw to Ciran, who tagged Lee out at home.
“It was just a head’s up play,” Capone said. “I saw that Annie didn’t have the ball, and I saw from the corner of my eye that they were sending the other runner home.”
Caldwell defended the play.
“You can second-guess it, but we were trying to force them to make a play,” he said.
The play was indicative of how sharply it was played.
“We have girls on the team that make plays,” St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. “Even on Annie’s previous times at the plate, she had some very good at bats.”
Ciran was equally impressive in running her record to 24-1. She struck out three and allowed three walks. Just as important, every time New Trier (23-12) appeared on the verge of breaking open the game offensively, Ciran defused the threat. In the fourth, New Trier had runners at second and third with one out. Ciran coaxed a strike out and a ground out to end the inning.
“We were very anxious and nervous at the start, I mean this is state,“ Ciran said. “Fortunately I had a lot of great players and great defense behind me, we played errorless
Ieuter’s aggressive strategy paid off.
“I wanted to really go after and battle their hitters,” she said.
She registered seven strike outs in the first four innings. It was one pitch that got away. Ieuter knew it was a home run ball as soon as she saw the force of Korth’s contact.
“The location wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to go,” she said. “It was farther outside and higher than I wanted it to be.”
Designated hitter Emily Watts’ sharp single into right field put the North Stars up 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth.