Prep Baseball & Softball

Edwardsville softball season comes to an end with Class 4A super-sectional loss

Lincoln-Way East’s Nikole Van Gennep runs to home on her 1st inning home run to put Lincoln-Way East up 2 to 1 against Edwardsville.
Lincoln-Way East’s Nikole Van Gennep runs to home on her 1st inning home run to put Lincoln-Way East up 2 to 1 against Edwardsville. News-Democrat

The Edwardsville and Lincoln-Way East softball teams sat through an 80-minutes of rain, hail before they could resume their 4A super-sectional game in the second inning.

For Edwardsville, the third inning brought the real downpour.

Lincoln-Way East sent 13 batters to the plate during the eight-run rally that propelled the Griffins to a 14-1 short-game win over the Tigers. They’ll play Barrington in the state semifinal Saturday.

Edwardsville’s season ends with a 30-5 record and regional and sectional championships.

“It’s a humbling game,” said Edwardsville coach Lori Blade. “We’ve been on the other end of that so many times in my career that it’s tough to take. But all the credit goes to them. They hit the ball hard.”

The Tigers took the early lead when Jordan Corby singled and scored on a double by starting pitcher Kallen Loveless.

Lincoln-Way East responded in the bottom of the first with a two-run, opposite field home run from its starting pitcher, Nikole Van Gennep.

Then came the rain and hail, which sent both teams to their buses for a 90-minute wait.

Loveless, who suffered just her second loss of the season Monday, had thrown a complete game in the Tigers’ 12-inning sectional championship victory over Normal West on Saturday.

Having to warm-up twice with a game delay in between couldn’t have helped her, but she offered no excuses for Lincoln-Way’s third inning onslaught.

“I did all the recovery I could, and I iced and was ready to be here for my team today,” the senior said. “It just sucked the way it ended.”

The Griffins sent eight batters to the plate in the third before Edwardsville could get an out. By that time, they had already scored seven runs. The biggest blow was third baseman Nicole O’Donnell’s two-run, bases-loaded single.

The final run of the rally crossed the plate when Van Gennep took an aggressive swing at a ball that ended up on the third base line, 10 feet from home plate. The hit amounted to a safety squeeze bunt because the runner at third, Olivia Prieto was able to sprint past Edwardsville catcher Taryn Brown before she could pick up the ball.

“It wasn’t really a lot of power hitting, they just kept finding a hole,” Loveless said.

And the hits just kept on coming. Lincoln-Way had nine in the inning.

“We got put back on our heals and just couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

Lincoln-Way East completed the short-game with four more runs in the fourth. Ami Ill had an RBI double and Jenny Van Geertry hit a three-run home run. That ended Loveless’ game and her high school career.

“I think with the rain delay you want to have the momentum going in and coming out,” said Lincoln-Way coach Mary McGivern. “Once one person hits, everybody else follows. It’s contagious.

Jordan Corby had two of the Tigers’ five hits. The junior second-baseman has had an oustanding post season. She was four-for-four in the sectional semifinal, then hit a home run, doubled and scored the winning run in the sectional championship win Saturday.

Torrie Kruse and Hayli Green had the other hits for Edwardsville. The Tigers will lose nine seniors.

“I just told the seniors they need to focus on their entire career and not just tonight,” Blade said. “That’s hard to do right now, but what a great career those nine kids had and they represented our program very well. This is humbling, but it’s part of athletics.”

Sports Editor Todd Eschman can be reached at teschman@bnd.com or 239-2540. Follow him on Twitter: @tceschman.

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