Lady Knights stage comeback
Frosh 3B hits game-winning single
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARKâ€”Maybe this is a truly new beginning for Kaneland softball.
Decked out in black-on-black uniforms and facing the team that ousted them in the 2009 regionals, the Kaneland Lady Knights and first-year coach Brian Willis used a single by freshman Taylor Velasquez to drive home two runs in the sixth inning. The lead held for a dramatic 3-2 win on opening day.
â€œI donâ€™t even know what to say at this point,â€ Willis said. â€œIâ€™m so proud of the girls the way they came back. They easily could have laid down after the big bomb we gave up (two-run HR in third). They kept fighting and scratching, and I think thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to be about.â€
Sophomore Delani Vest fanned seven batters for the win.
In the top of the third, Lady Rocket Emily Bell hit a two-run shot to left field for a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the frame, leftfielder Sam Hansen hit a single for the first hit of the afternoon for KHS. Vest reached on an error, and shortstop Allyson Oâ€™Herron drove her home with a hit-and-run single.
In the bottom of the sixth, second baseman Brittany Davis walked and went to third after McKinzie Mangersâ€™ bunt was mishandled.
With two runners on, pinch runner Alexis Villarreal stole second. 3B Velasquez hit a single to right-center allowing Davis to come home and Villarreal to slide under the tag.
â€œThat at-bat was a little nerve-wracking at first,â€ Velasquez said. â€œBut I knew the pitcher was getting a little tired and hit it to right field, and the girls were so supportive.â€
In lower-level action, the sophomores lost in the bottom of the eight against BC, 8-7, despite two homers by Katy Dudzinski and 10 Kâ€™s on the mound from her.
The freshmen won over BC 18-12 thanks to 14 Kâ€™s from Ellissa Eckert and a 3-for-5 day for Kara Leyden.
The varsity roster plays visiting Oswego in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 3.
Photo: LF Sam Hansen maneuvers in the batters box during the Lady Knightsâ€™ dramatic 3-2 win over visiting Burlington Central. Hansen walked and eventually scored the first Lady Knight run in the third inning. Photo by Mike Slodki