Senior Madeline Maldonado and Lane came into the Public League final against Taft on Thursday on a mission.
The Indians had won seven consecutive Public League titles, three of which Maldonado and six teammates have been part of.
With a new coach (Devin Miller) this season, the Indians rolled to their eighth title in a row, routing Taft 12-2 in five innings at UIC.
“I felt a lot of pressure coming into the year,’’ said Miller, a former All-State pitcher at Loyola and UIC star who graduated last spring. “It was intimidating because of all the success, but we just wanted the girls to continue it.’’
The North Side teams previously squared off twice this season, with Lane (22-8) run-ruling the Eagles each time. Taft was looking to get off to a quick lead and that’s exactly what it did.
Kaitlin Ulbert opened with a double, Heidi Suwinski coaxed a walk after two outs, and both players came around to score on a double by Kyra Vidas, giving Taft a 2-0 lead.
The Indians responded emphatically, however. Lane scored six runs in the bottom of the first as seven hitters in a row reached base. A two-run triple by Carolina Ayapan and a two-run double by Marissa Maldonado were the big hits in the inning.
Taft starter Kylie Broadway settled in, holding the Indians scoreless over the next two innings. But Avelyss Roman also settled in, holding the Eagles (18-19) to three hits over the final four innings.
“We got a little lax with how we were playing and our big lead,’’ Madeline Maldonado said. “We said in our huddle we couldn’t let that happen, but we did. Then we got our focus back in the fourth inning.’’
Corrie Lucchesi, a four-year starter, helped the Indians regain their focus. She started the fourth inning with a single and came around to score on an error. Marissa Maldonado drove in two runs on a flyout to right and Desiree Velazquez hit a two-run home run to center to give the Indians a 10-run lead.
Taft reached the final thanks to an 8-3 semifinal upset of top-seeded Young. Young defeated Lane twice this season.
“It was disheartening in a way to see Taft win because we wanted another shot at [Young],’’ Madeline Maldonado said. “They thought they had us since they beat us twice, but we knew we could beat them. I knew we could beat them, it’s a shame it didn’t happen. It would have been a really good game.’’