The Oak Park and Lyons Township softball teams needed more than seven innings to decide their last two matchups.
The Huskies (15-16, 3-5) defeated the Lions 4-2 in nine innings at Lyons Township on Thursday in a makeup game of a rainout. Prior to the game, the Huskies completed a suspended game from April 20th (originally played at Oak Park and suspended after 10 innings due to darkness). The Huskies came away with an 8-7 victory in the 15th inning on a walk-off home run by junior right-fielder Mariah Wienand.
“I adjusted my placement in the box a little bit, because I wasn’t seeing the ball well,” Wienand said of her final at-bat in the first game. “I said ‘it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I get a hit.’ We had two outs, so I was more relaxed. I was confident, but not too confident. I was just thinking ‘Do what you need to do,’ and hitting a home run ended up being what I needed to do.”
The Huskies rallied in the ninth inning of Game 2, as junior right-fielder Valarie Cundari knocked in the go-ahead run on a double to right-center. Junior first-baseman Jenna Rouse followed with an RBI single to score Cundari and give the Huskies the 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the frame. The Huskies held on for the win.
“I think we were (more patient at the plate),” Wienand said of Game 2. “I think our pitch selection definitely got better; we adjusted to the umpire’s strike zone and I think that was the key.”
Cundari went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs in Game 2, while Rouse and junior third baseman Dana Alcock both finished 1-for-4 with an RBI apiece.
For the Lions (14-12, 4-5), senior infielder Chelsea Grady went 3-for-5 in Game 2 with an RBI and sophomore infielder Ashley Koziol went 2-for-5 with an RBI.
With the Huskies up 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, Lyons senior pitcher Alyssa Koziol got things going for her team with a one-out single. After senior catcher Skye Riddle flew out to left-field, Grady kept the inning alive for the Lions with a single. Ashley Koziol followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2 as Grady was forced out at third base by Huskies junior second-baseman Samantha Davidson.
“I was just trying to get it for my team,” said Grady. “We needed to put the hits together. (The Huskies) were always a little bit better, but I think we can come back if we practice hard. Our energy was so much better than every other game we’ve played; it seemed like we were really coming together as a team, we were doing really well.”
Oak Park will return to Lyons Township for the Class 4A regionals, which begin with the fourth-seeded Huskies playing Curie on May 22 (4:30 p.m.). Lyons is the sixth seed and will take on Argo on May 23 (4:30 p.m.). The regional championship is scheduled for May 26 (11 a.m.). Lyons head coach Dawn Schabacker said her team will be ready for a possible re-match.
“I told the girls that this was fuel for the fire,” she said. “I said, ‘they’re going to be here in two weeks, what are we going to do with it?’ It will be a good challenge for us.”