(Sugar Grove, IL.) – Sometimes all it takes is one break to change everything. Waubonsee Community College's softball team capitalized on one miscue to turn the tide and go on to sweep Sauk Valley Community College 5-2 and 9-3 in the first round of the Region IV Division II Tournament. The second seeded Chiefs (32-16) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the opener, and then pounced on the seventh seeded Skyhawks (9-29) early in the second game to cruise to victory. The Chiefs now advance to the semi-finals of the tournament and will play this coming Saturday, May 11 at Read Park in Freeport. Waubonsee is set to play fourth-seeded Triton College (29-23) beginning at 1:00 p.m. For more information on the tournament, go on-line to www.Region4Sports.com and click on the Tournament Central link.
In the opener Sauk Valley scored first on a sacrifice fly to right by Lillie Ledbetter in the top of the third. Waubonsee answered in their half of the third when Alyssa Eby hit a one-out, line shot double to left. After a fly out for the second out, Autumn Sullivan hit a pop up down the right field line that dropped just out of the reach of the Skyhawks' second baseman. With a second chance, Sullivan lined a double to center field to knock in Eby and tie the game.
Upset minded Sauk Valley then took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth when Aleah Wight smacked a two-out, two-strike triple to right centerfield. Sullivan's relay throw sailed over third baseman Megan White and Wight raced home, sliding just under the tag of Chiefs' catcher Alexandra Martin. The Chiefs still trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth when they began their comeback. White led off with a single to center off Sauk Valley's McKenna Rommel, who had kept the Chiefs at bay the first five innings. Sullivan then lined a double to right centerfield, but White was thrown out at the plate for the first out. Moments later Katie Beebe smacked a long drive, foul down the left field line for strike two. Rommel then threw an outstanding change-up to strikeout Beebe for the second out. Jessica Wilson then kept the inning alive by drawing a walk on a three-and-two pitch.
With the potential tying run at second and the go ahead run at first, Maddie Kawall lifted a high fly ball to shallow centerfield. Ledbetter, who had already run down seven balls hit to the outfield up to this point, raced in and started to camp under the ball. However, she lost the ball in the sun at the last moment and the potential third out fell in for a run-scoring single to tie the game. The lucky break suddenly swung the momentum in the Chiefs' favor and Martin capitalized in a big way. Two pitches later the left-handed hitter drilled Rommel's offering over the right centerfield fence for a three-run homer to stun the Skyhawks and give Waubonsee a 5-2 lead. On the play Ledbetter crashed into the outfield fence in pursuit of the ball, injuring her knee. The Skyhawks number three hitter in their lineup had to then watch the rest of the day's action from the dugout.
Beebe then retired Sauk Valley in order in the top of the seventh to pick up her 16th win of the season. The right-handed hurler allowed just three hits, struck out 10 and walked only one in the complete game effort. Sullivan paced the Chiefs' offense by going 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles and a run scored, while Kawall went 2 for 3 with a run scored.
The Chiefs then carried that momentum into game two and jumped all over the Skyhawks right from the beginning. In the bottom of the first Eby beat out an infield single and White then reached base on a bloop single over first base. Sullivan followed with a line shot to center that was snagged by a leaping Wight for the first out. Beebe then lofted a towering drive to the base of the left field fence that dropped in for a run-scoring double. Two pitches later Wilson slapped a grounder to third and the Chiefs' aggressive base running set the tone for what was to come.
White beat the throw home to score a second run while Beebe continued on to third base, sliding under the tag after a quick throw from the catcher. Wilson, never stopping at first, raced to second and slide around the tag at second base as three Chiefs runners all slid in safely to bases in the same sequence of action. That proved to be important moments later when Kawall dropped down a bunt to third and beat the throw to first. The ball popped out of the first baseman's glove and rolled toward second base allowing Beebe to scamper home for a 3-0 Chiefs lead. Martin then smacked a single past the third baseman to score Wilson and Kawall as the Chiefs equaled the total amount of runs they scored in the first game after only seven batters.
In the second inning Sullivan coaxed a one-out walk and Beebe followed with a no doubt, two-run homer to left field. The freshman's eighth home run of the season put the Chiefs in front 7-0 and knocked Sauk Valley starter Maddi Deery out of the game. Haley Varga came on in relief and got out of further trouble after walking a pair of batters. Waubonsee added two more runs in the third as Emma Boland reached base when the left fielder dropped her long drive to left. Eby then lined a double to right and Sullivan drove home pinch runner Destinee Corral a moment later on a ground out to short. Beebe followed with a bloop double down the right field line to score Eby and make it 9-0 Waubonsee after just three innings.
Meanwhile Beebe continued to keep Sauk Valley's bats in check through four innings. She surrendered just one hit, walked one and struck out three over four scoreless innings. However, in the fifth she began to show signs of tiring and gave up a pair of singles. With two outs and just a strike away from ending the game due to the eight-run after five innings slaughter rule, Wight drilled a line shot three-run homer to straight away center to get the Skyhawks on the board. Beebe then buckled down and retired seven of the next eight batters, including three by strikeout, to secure the win. In the process she also established a new Waubonsee single season mark for strikeouts in a season with 133, breaking the previous mark of 127 set by Jenna Wilson in 2007.
Beebe finished the game 3 for 4 at the plate with a pair of doubles, a home run, four runs batted in and two scored. Eby went 2 for 4 with a double and two runs scored, while Kawall finished 2 for 4 with a run scored.