Battle for the top
Lady Knights’ conference race goes down to the wire
KANELAND—With the end of the regular season in sight, the Kaneland High School softball team finds itself battling for the top spot in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference.
“We’re going to have to go out and earn it if we want a solo championship,” head coach Brian Willis said. “They’re a tight-knit group that play well together and they encourage each other, and I think that helps if somebody starts getting down.”
On Saturday in Sterling, the Lady Knights escaped with a close 5-4 win. Against the non-conference host Plainfield North Tigers, the KHS crew used a seven-run seventh inning under cloudy skies for an 11-4 win.
On Thursday in Sycamore, Kaneland won 6-4. The Lady Knights improved to a stellar 19-3 with an 8-1 tally in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play, earning at least a tie in conference action. KHS has won five in a row.
With a close win over the conference crossover Golden Warriors, the bats came out in full force against the Plainfield North team.
The Knights broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning helped by four hits, including RBI singles from Caroline Heimerdinger and Meg Cohrs; a Maddie Hester hit was mishandled by the pitcher to bring the third run home.
Plainfield North took advantage of opportune hits and smacked a three-run homer to tie the game before tacking one on for a 4-3 lead.
Cohrs tied the game with a run-scoring double in the top of the sixth, setting the stage for the top of the seventh, which got the win for reliever Ellissa Eckert.
Eleven batters came to plate in the inning. Heimerdinger’s at-bat resulting in an E-6 brought Aly O’Herron home to break the tie, and Cohrs earned her fourth RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to right. After a walk to Hester, Sarah Grams torched a ball for a three-run double to the wall to break the game wide open. Lexi Roach had an RBI triple, and O’Herron added a run-scoring single to cap the immense rally.
Cohrs’ big day, featuring a double and four RBI, was sizable on its own, meaning more that it was able to help a rally.
“I was able to hit a changeup, which was good, because I sometimes have trouble staying back,” Cohrs said. “I just ripped it to centerfield, and it was really rewarding.”
Willis was glad with the late-inning heroics.
“We stayed resilient once we gave up that lead,” he said. “We came back, and I thought we hit the ball real hard the last couple innings, especially that last inning. We hit line drives and made their defense work hard.”
Against Sycamore, Roach went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, while O’Herron went 3-for-4 with four RBI and her first career home run.
The Lady Knights face off against DeKalb on Thursday, May 16, at 4:30 p.m. in Maple Park.