Gillespie ends softball run at 31-4
By Eric Becker and Kyle Cunningham
A pair of leadoff walks – in the sixth and seventh innings – proved beneficial for the Gillespie Miners softball team Wednesday afternoon.
Playing at home in its own sectional against a Williamsville team that had eliminated them at sectionals a year prior, this time the Miners went digging for gold and found it with a wild pitch providing the winning margin.
Gillespie (31-3) faced Dupo Saturday for the sectional crown. It was as expected, a pitcher’s dual on Wednesday.
The Miners had a good chance to score in the first inning. Addison Bryant singled, went to second on a sacrifice by Rylee Jarman, and to third when she beat a throw to third on a ground ball to short by Mackenzie Kasarda. However, Williamsville pitcher Payton Long got out of trouble with a strikeout and a ground out.
Bryant went to the mound for Gillespie and retired the first 11 she faced until hitting Danielle Dennis with a pitch and allowing a two-out soft single to short right by Emma Newton.
Bryant would strike out Kaylee Burton to get out of further trouble.
Gillespie had a two-out chance in the fourth when Beth Fields walked. Sydney Henrichs then hit a hard-hit fly ball to deep right field which was tracked down by Newton in front of the fence to end the inning.
Scoreless through five innings, a bunt single by Molly Walter opened the Williamsville half of the sixth inning. Emma Walbert, the leadoff hitter for the Bullets, was called out on hitter’s interference. With two outs, a double by Dennis to left-center field fell in off the glove of the fielder. Walter scored to make it 1-0.
The Miners were not going down without a fight, as was demonstrated in the late innings of this game. In the bottom of the sixth, Bryant drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Jarman.
Bryant caught the Bullets napping when she stole third base on a delayed steal when the catcher returned the ball to the pitcher.
Mackenzie Kasarda tied it with an RBI-single and it was 1-1.
The Bullets got a runner to second in the seventh but she was stranded, setting up the dramatic walk-off wild pitch.
Beth Fields drew a leadoff walk against Long in a huge at-bat.
Henrichs moved Fields to second, and Bette Hammann’s single put Fields just 60 feet from the sectional final. As Abby Munos drew a walk, the last pitch got away from the catcher, scoring Fields with the game-winning tally.
Both teams were held to three hits. Long struck out five and issued three walks. Bryant struck out eight and walked one.
Dupo 2, Gillespie 1
The Gillespie Miners softball teammates squared up against the Dupo Tigers on May 28th for the IHSA 2A Gillespie Sectional Title. The Miners had beaten the Tigers earlier in the season by the score of 2-1.
Gillespie reached sectional play for the ninth time since 2005. The last time they made it to the title game was back in 2008. That year the team fell to the Williamsville Bullets, who they most recently took down to make it to this year’s title game. The Miners got this far due in part to area standout Addison Bryant, timely hitting, and staunch defense.
Unfortunately for Gillespie the defense did not play up to expectations. In the end the Miners would give up a walk off single to end the season with a 31-4 record, after a 2-1 setback to the Tigers.
Coming into the game it was safe to say this would be another pitchers duel. Not only because the last time the Miners’ Addison Bryant faced Dupo’s Jessica Stansch it was 2-1, but to top it off the wind was blowing in at a strong clip.
It was Dupo that would strike first on a wild pitch. The game could have gotten out of hand with the bases loaded and only one out, but Bryant would close the door on Tigers, getting the next two batters to strike out.
Sydney Henrichs singled in Rylee Jarman who reached earlier in the inning off a single of her own. Ally Clay then hit a long fly ball to left field, only the wind kept it up in the air enough to be caught. This play however caught Henrichs off base, she was then thrown out before she could tag up for the inning ending double play.
Bryant would issue her third consecutive strikeout to start off the bottom of the second. She then finished the inning by forcing back to back groundouts.
Stansch countered with a scoreless inning of her own, stifling the Miner bats.
The Miners seemed to be cruising defensively when Bette Hammann made a stealer diving catch in foul territory to start off the bottom of the third. Bryant then retired her seventh straight batter by getting the Tigers’ Rachael Donald to fly out. Bryant would then get herself into a jam after allowing a double and surrendering a walk. An error at shortstop would then load the bases.
Luckily Bryant forced a groundout to first to end the inning.
Gillespie fell into their second double play of the contest due to the wind yet again keeping a ball up in the air long enough to be caught catching the runner off base.
Each pitcher was determined not to give up that second run, as it seemed as though the team that got it would win.
In the seventh Beth Fields hit a long fly ball only to be caught by the pesky wind, a factor that had plagued the team all afternoon.
Stansch continued to shut down the opposing offense by recording a 1-2-3 inning.
The third and final error of the game for the Miners proved to be costly as it would allow the eventual winning run to cross the plate. After a sacrifice bunt by Skylure Barlow, Dupo’s Megan Brown would swat a bloop single to shallow right, bringing home the game winner for the Tigers.
The Miners would finish the season at 31-4, breaking the school record for most wins in the season. It’s safe to say they will be right back in the thick of things come next May.