Valiant comeback falls short
Softball eliminated despite six-run flurry in seventh inning
AURORA—The end of Saturday’s Class 3A Rosary Regional final is something Kaneland fans will remember for quite awhile.
Kaneland softball wishes there was more to the season than mere memories, however.
Falling behind 7-0 to No. 2 seed Rosary on Saturday morning, the top seed Lady Knights put together an exciting six-run rally before falling just short in a 7-6 loss.
Kaneland finished the season at 24-4, while Rosary improved to 13-18. The Lady Royals were scheduled to face perennial powerhouse Marengo at Wednesday’s Rochelle Sectional semifinal.
The Lady Knights captured a regional title last year at IMSA against Yorkville before being dethroned by Sterling at the Belvidere North Sectional, and seemed to have odds in its favor after a recent doubleheader sweep of Rosary, as well as a five-inning rout of Sandwich in the regional semi last week.
Rosary put up one run in the top of the second for a 1-0 lead, and KHS had a two-out opportunity with two runners in scoring position, but came up empty.
After Rosary put up two more runs in the top of the fourth for a 3-0 lead, the Lady Knights had the bases loaded with one out, but a fielder’s choice and groundout were induced by Rosary to extinguish the threat.
The Lady Royals tallied three in the fifth and one more in the sixth for a sizable lead, setting the drama for the last frame.
With one out, Lexi Roach and Aly O’Herron both singled before Lanie Callaghan drove home a run with a single to finally get on the board.
Catcher Paige Kuefler proceeded to smack a three-run homer to right field to close the deficit to 7-4, and was followed by Sarah Grams’ solo shot in her final Kaneland at-bat to make it 7-5.
Meg Cohrs doubled, and Allie Miller lined out to right. Haley Contorno hit a double to the wall to drive Cohrs home, cutting the lead to one. With the tying run in scoring position, Caroline Heimerdinger grounded out to the pitcher to end the game.
Ellissa Eckert took the loss in the pitchers’ circle.
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity, both offensively and defensively,” KHS coach Brian Willis said. “We didn’t do it early in the game. Until the last inning, it seemed every ball we hit hard went right at them.”
With the elimination, the Kaneland program bids farewell to the season with a core of seniors Grams, O’Herron, Morgan Newhouse, Taylor Krawczyk, Kristin Gabrielson and Eckert.
“I’m proud of the way they did win two back-to-back conference championships and a lot of victories,” Willis said. “They’ve only lost 11 games in two years. This is a painful one to lose, but Rosary gets credit today.”
Photos by Kimberly Anderson