New Athens senior Jordan Drake came through with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the Yellow Jackets knock off the Woodlawn Cardinals on Tuesday.
Junior Taylor Junge scored the winning run in the 10-9 victory that sends New Athens to the Class 1A Marissa softball championship game Saturday.
Drake finished the afternoon 1-for-4, including a bases-clearing triple in the fifth. Junge was a perfect 4-for-4, scoring four of the Yellow Jackets’ runs.
“I just choked up and knew I needed to make contact because we had a runner on third and she was what we needed to win the game,” said Drake.
Junior Haley Kohnen was the winning pitcher in relief of starter Julia Drake. Kohnen allowed two hits and two runs in the final two innings. Drake cruised through the first three innings, but Woodlawn mounted a two-out, five-run rally to take the lead in the fourth.
New Athens held a 9-7 lead when Woodlawn’s Hallie Hill’s two-run triple tied it again in the top of the seventh.
Kohnen left Hill stranded at third to hold the score at 9-9 and set up Drake’s dramatics.
Junge led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, was moved to third by Hannah Daab’s sacrifice bunt. Drake finished the job, but not before the lead had changed hands five times.
“I’m just so proud of how these girls came back, never gave up, and their intensity never waivered,” said Yellow Jackets head coach Conrad Widdersheim.
For New Athens Sophie Cooper went 3-for-4 and was just the home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Hannah Daab had two hits and three runs batted in. Bryanne McBride had a hit and two RBI’s hitting out of the No. 8 spot.
Senior Kiara Lueking took the loss for Woodlawn while classmate Hallie Hill went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Sophomore Madison Tiemann finished 2-for-4 with an RBI triple to lead the Cardinals’ offense.
New Athens (17-12) advances to the 1A sectional finals at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. The Yellow Jackets will play the winner of the semifinal game Wednesday between Oblong and Marissa.
“We’ll be ready, if the girls keep bringing this intensity then that’ll be the difference maker for us,” said Widdersheim. “Either way I know my girls are excited and they’re going to be ready on Saturday for another good game.”