Softball: Lemont bows to Oak Forest
By Tony Baranek email@example.com May 17, 2012 11:32PM
Updated: July 1, 2012 11:53AM
A share of the South Suburban Blue title was on the line Thursday when Lemont took a 1-0 lead over host Oak Forest on a fourth-inning home run by Alexis Valone.
Bengals pitcher Emily Larsen stood in the circle, stoic. She got another ball from catcher Emily Naegele and almost smiled as she went back to work.
If she was shaken, she didn’t show it.
“I knew my team, no matter what, would get it back,” Larsen said later. “They could have hit three home runs and they would have done what it took to get it back for me.
“I’m so lucky to have a team like this behind me.”
Lemont players would circle the bases twice, as it turned out. But the Bengals, Larsen included, powered their way back for a 4-2 victory.
The win erased the one-game deficit Oak Forest (22-11, 16-3) was chasing before the conference finale. Lemont dropped to 22-9, 16-3.
Oak Forest won both regular-season meetings between the two teams.
Larsen played a key role in the comeback, leading off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit off Lemont pitcher Carly Jaworski. Larsen was on third and Ashley Benninger on first (walk) with two outs when Naegele came to the plate.
Larsen scored on a wild pitch. Naegele then crushed another outside pitch into the right-field corner for an RBI triple. Jourdan Skirha followed with an RBI single to score Naegele to make it 3-1.
Jaworski would get Lemont to within 3-2 on a bizarre play in which she drove a pitch to deep center. Gianna Kuras chased after the ball, then kicked it just before it hit the ground. The ball ricocheted from dead center into the right-field corner. Jaworski easily circled the bases.
Kuras atoned for her miscue with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning to score Calie Delisi.
“I told my pitcher that she was pitching an awesome game and that I was going to have her back and get that run back for her,” Kuras said.
Larsen retired the minimum six batters over the final two innings. She finished with seven strikeouts, five of which ended frames.
The conference title was the fourth for both Naegele and Skirha.
“It was a challenge this year,” Naegele said. “We kind of told the other kids that we didn’t want to go out losing a conference championship that meant a lot to us. And they were great teammates and got the job done for us.”
Lemont coach Christine Traina lauded both teams.
“It was a well-played ballgame, we just couldn’t string the hits together when we needed to,” Traina said. “Give Oak Forest a lot of credit. They’re a good team. But I give our kids credit, too.”