When Madison Sherwood came on to pitch for Andrew in the third inning of Thursday’s game at Lincoln-Way Central, the first order of business was to avoid a slaughter-rule situation.
The Thunderbolts were trailing 8-1.
“I just tried to stay focused no matter what,” she said. “I just want my team to win.”
Sherwood did her job with excellence. Her teammates? They had her smiling in the dugout as she watched them pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Andrew softball history.
“I was, I was,” a still-smiling Sherwood said after the Thunderbolts’ 14-8 SouthWest Suburban Red victory. “I am so grateful for my teammates.”
Kara Meter led the charge for Andrew (19-6, 7-2), reaching all five times and clubbing a huge three-run home run. Abby Bailey and Gianni Iannantone also homered, while Kayla Plastiak contributed a key two-run double.
Courtney Kinney crushed a round-tripper for Central (13-10, 6-3).
It was Andrew’s second comeback win over the Knights this season. In the teams’ first meeting, the Thunderbolts rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win 7-4.
Sherwood was nothing short of dynamic on a day that looked anything like it was going Andrew’s way.
The Knights scored an unearned run off Andrew starting pitcher Hannah Thielmann in the first inning, then after the Thunderbolts tied it on a Bailey homer in the top of the second, they knocked Thielmann out of the game with small-ball.
Kinney’s leadoff blast was the only ball hit with any authority in the seven-run outburst, as the Thunderbolts infield couldn’t find the ball on taps, bunts and grounders by Rachel Soch, Hannah Hosty, Bree Schultz and Ashley Evans. When
Nicole Rote grounded a base hit through the middle to drive in Evans, it became 8-1.
Sherwood (5-1) had much better luck in the circle, retiring the side in order in the third. She allowed just two hits in five innings.
Central starting pitcher Sarah Mikolajczak, meanwhile, was pulled after two innings by Central coach Jeff Tarala. Reliever Hannah Dallio escaped the third unscathed, but trouble was lying ahead.
Andrew’s comeback began with an RBI double by Kelly Levigne in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Iannantone stroked a two-run homer. By her account, it was the first time she cleared a fence in her life.
“In my first at-bat (with the bases loaded) I grounded out,” she said. “I had to adjust to the new pitcher because they were different speeds.”
Meter’s three-run bomb in the fifth drew the Thunderbolts to within 8-7. Tarala reinserted Mikolajczak in the circle, but Andrew rode hits by Kayla Noel and Plastiak and an RBI groundout by Bailey to a two-run sixth.
Two-run hits by Plastiak and Bailey keyed a five-run seventh.
“Every time we’re down we’re usually fighting to come back,” Meter said. “We have it in us.”
For Central, if the first loss was the fish that got away, this was the whale.
“Yeah, yeah, this one was a tough one,” Tarala said with a chuckle. “To say the least, this was tough. “We didn’t pitch well enough, we didn’t hit well enough, we didn’t field the ball well enough.
“This was not our team out there (Thursday). But credit (Andrew). They pounded the ball, and their second pitcher came in and did a real nice job. They deserved it.”