The 2015 Kaneland Knights softball team placed third in State over the weekend in East Peoria, Ill. The team included Angie Morrow, Aly Jesionowski, Sara Lascola, Mary Clausen, Alexis Slowick, Shannon Herra, Meg Cohrs, Rachel Goress, Destiny Cowsert, Morgan Weber, Rachel Ulrich, Paige Kuefler, Hannah Theobald, Annissa Becker, Courtney Davis, Samantha Payton, Hailey Douglas, Alexsis Mullins and Morgan Sikon. Junior Meg Cohrs (right) went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI to help the Knights. Photos by Stephanie Vanik
.500 weekend nets KHS third-place trophy
EAST PEORIA, Ill.—Only two softball teams in the state get to say they finished the season with a win, and Kaneland High School became one of those teams on Saturday.
After losing a close 2-1 game Friday against Marengo, the Kaneland softball team regained its offensive potency in the State Third Place game, dispatching Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin (SHG) 7-1 to earn the third-place trophy on Saturday.
Weather played its part in the weekend, as Friday’s game was delayed four hours due to thunderstorms, and Saturday’s game was moved up an hour to get ahead of even more storms forecast for the afternoon.
“(The girls) stayed even-keeled through the whole thing,” head coach Peter Goff said. “They were focused, and I have to give them credit for what they did.”
Friday’s game against eventual State runner-up Marengo looked to be quite the pitchers’ duel, with the Knights facing the daunting task of trying to solve Mariah Dionne, who entered the tournament with a 25-3 record, a 1.89 ERA and 259 strikeouts over 178 innings. Meanwhile, Kaneland countered with Angie Morrow and her 17-2 record, 1.20 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 122 innings.
Kaneland was only able to muster one run on four hits against Dionne, who struck out four. Morrow only allowed two runs (one earned) over six hits, and struck out eight in the loss.
After 1-2-3 innings by both teams in the first inning, Marengo had its first chance against Morrow with two outs in the second, when Amber Proberts singled and advanced to second after a walk. But a fielder’s choice ended the first Indians threat. Kaneland was again stifled in the second, going 1-2-3. Marengo then got all the runs it needed in the third, with a two-run rally with two outs. Kaneland got its first hit in the third when Courtney Davis singled to center, but a double play ended the Knights’ hopes in that inning. Neither team had any significant chances until the top of the sixth, when Marengo got runners on first and second on back-to-back singles with no outs. Both runners advanced to second and third on a sacrifice, but a pop fly and a ground out to Meg Cohrs ended the Indian’s chances. Finally in the bottom of the sixth, the Knights’ Hannah Theobald reached on an error and advanced to second on a passed ball. Aly Jesionowski singled in Theobald before a ground out ended the Kaneland threat. A groundout and two Morrow strikeouts kept the game at 2-1 with the Knights coming to the plate one last time. A Morgan Sikon single with two outs gave some hope before a pop up to third base ended the game.
On Saturday, it was once again Morrow taking the ball against the SHG Cyclones. This time, the Knights had few chances early, while SHG got a few runners on base, but advanced them no closer to home than second. SHG finally got on the board first behind a leadoff single by MaKenna Butcher. Courtesy runner Clare Dodson stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a groundout, making it 1-0. Kaneland answered in its half of the fourth, when Cohrs hit a one-out single and Morgan Weber walked. Mary Clausen singled in Cohrs to make it 1-1. A quiet 1-2-3 inning by SHG was followed by an explosive fifth for the Knights, as they plated six runs to put the game out of reach. Jesionowski singled to left field with one out, and Morrow rapped a single to left to advance her to second base. Paige Kuefler reached on an error, and KHS had the bases loaded with just one out. Cohrs came through with a single to center field, scoring Jesionowski and Rachel Urich (running for Morrow) to make it 3-1. Weber then doubled to center, making it 5-1. Sikon reached when she was hit by a pitch, and Clausen singled, scoring Weber. Sikon was able to score on the play due to an error, making it 7-1. SHG could only muster a single in the sixth. Morrow walked a batter with one out in the seventh, and then got a strikeout/throw out double play to end the game and clinch third place.
Goff praised his battery of Morrow and Kuefler.
“It’s nice to have a pitcher (like Morrow),” Goff said about his ace. “To have a battery like we had this year (Morrow and Kuefler), I think they are the best in the State.”
In the championship game on Saturday, the Washington Lady Panthers beat Marengo 2-1, with Dionne taking the loss.
The Knights generally dominated the postseason, going 6-1 overall and outscoring their opponents 48-8. On the season, the Knights finished 25-9 and outscored their opponents 235-91.
This marks the fourth time in KHS history a girls team has brought home a State trophy, according to IHSA.org, with Knights girls basketball (1982) and track and field (1987, 1988) teams each taking home titles.
Goff, also the athletic director at KHS, was appreciative of his team. He noted the head coaching position—which he held on an interim basis this season—would soon be posted. Goff compiled a 63-47 record as a softball coach at his previous stops before taking the reigns at KHS this season.
“We always knew it would be a one-year deal (coaching the team),” Goff said. “The girls knew it was on them to get to where they wanted to go, and I’m just happy to have been along for the ride.”