EAST PEORIA, Ill. — In the top of the fifth inning Beecher was sitting pretty with a three-run lead and was seven outs away from advancing to the Class 2A state title game at EastSide Centre in East Peoria.
Then Teutopolis third baseman Allison Apke stepped up to the plate with two outs, runners on first and second and the Lady Shoes having cut the deficit to two. She fell behind in the count 1-2 to Bobcats senior pitcher Sarah Crews.
“I moved up closer to the plate because they were pitching me outside,” said Apke, who was 2-for-2.
The adjustment worked. Apke launched her ninth home run of the season for the eventual winning runs, lifting the Lady Shoes to a 6-5 win Friday. The Lady Shoes (28-3) advance to Saturday’s state title game against Rock Island Alleman (31-6).
The Bobcats (33-8) will meet Monticello (30-5) in the third-place game scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday. Game times could change due to inclement weather.
“We were working outside and we came back inside and it must have been her stronger point,” Crews (23-4) said of the home-run pitch. “We just have to come out and play our best [on Saturday].”
Stranded runners proved costly for the Bobcats. They left 11 on base after outhitting the Lady Shoes 11-6 and also edged them in errors 4-2. They got the first two runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings but couldn’t produce a timely hit.
“Give credit to Teutopolis and their pitcher [Kadi Borries],” Beecher coach Kevin Hayhurst said. “They kept bending and bending but wouldn’t break — we had a whole bunch of chances.”
Isabella Woolslayer, Taylor Johnson, Crews and Sydney Zupan each had two hits. Johnson added her 17th home run of the season to lead off the third and put her team ahead 3-1. Freshman Salem Garza collected a pinch-hit, two-out, two-run single to cap the scoring in the third with the Bobcats up 5-1.
Borries (18-1) had a pair of hits and an RBI for the Lady Shoes while teammate Julie Wente had a triple and two RBI.
Hayhurst didn’t take solace in the fact that he has a young team.
“We wanted to win this game real bad,” said Hayhurst, who won state titles in 2004 and 2007. “This is a great experience for the young kids, but this is disappointing especially with a 5-1 lead. We want to come back here and get a win.”