Jenny Van Geertry, Nikole Van Gennep and Blake Ruiz are the main core of Lincoln-Way East’s lineup.
In Thursday’s 11-5 victory over Lockport in a Class 4A Andrew Sectional semifinal, they were a 3-4-5 wrecking machine.
Van Geertry launched a two-run home run in the first, Ruiz a three-run blast in the third and Van Gennep a two-run bomb in the fifth.
In the seventh, they strung together three consecutive singles to push their RBI production to eight.
“We’ve been rallying off each other,” Ruiz said. “Once someone does something good, then we all start doing good. Everyone is just on their game right now.”
Good time for it.
The win advances the Griffins (25-10) to Saturday’s sectional title game against Joliet West. It was East’s second victory in three tries against Lockport (27-9-1).
There wasn’t a ton of drama, but there could have been had not Van Gennep gotten out of a tough first-inning situation in the circle.
Van Geertry already had put the Griffins ahead 2-0 by following a base hit by Olivia Prieto with a two-run shot that bounced off a car in the school’s parking lot.
It appeared, however, Lockport was going to break through right away. The Porters had Kelly Pattison (single) on second and Jordan Arndt (reached on error) on first when Gabby Voulgaris hit a fly ball to the gap in right-center. Alana Selvaggio made a nice running catch as Pattison broke for third. The throw was late, but Pattison was called out for leaving second too soon.
Sarah DeMasi followed with a single and Haylie Arndt walked, loading the bases. Alli Howard worked Van Gennep to a 3-and-2 count, when East assistant coach Jamie Ende sprinted to the circle.
“She was just telling me to calm down, that this was what I was doing my whole life,” Van Gennep said. “She told me just to relax and do what I do best.”
The next pitch was a beauty, a curveball that Howard swung at and missed.
Voulgaris got the Porters to within 2-1 in the bottom of the second with a towering round-tripper, but East made its biggest muscle flex in the third, scoring four times on an Eleni Kioussis walk, a Van Geertry single, a Van Gennep double and a three-run homer by Ruiz.
The pattern repeated itself a couple of more times, as Lockport scored once in the fourth on an RBI single by Hallie Hollatz, once in the fourth on a triple by Elena Wolfe and an RBI groundout by Pattison, only to have East score three times in the fifth on an RBI single by Van Geertry and a two-run blast by Van Gennep.
Bottom line: Nobody really fooled anybody from the circle, but five innings of single runs by Lockport were no match for East’s four-inning tally of two, four, three and two.
“I think we had a couple of things not go our way calls-wise and that was a momentum-shifter,” Lockport coach Marissa Chovanec said. “And then we were constantly chasing the lead. So that’s tough.
“I just have to credit the kids, though. Our seniors didn’t give up. They constantly battled.”