SYCAMORE – Whether it was in Belvidere or Sycamore, freshman Kairi Lantz was coming up with big hits for Sycamore.
The freshman was 3 for 3 with three RBIs, Brooklynn Snodgrass added four hits including a three-run home run, and the Spartans beat Kaneland 9-1 on Thursday in a semifinal of the Class 3A Belvidere North Sectional that started at the host school and ended at the Sycamore Park District field under the lights.
“It’s absolutely amazing. We started from the beginning – after getting rescheduled three times – we came back and did not lose our energy. I’m so proud of everybody.”— Kairi Lantz, Sycamore freshman
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Lantz said. “We started from the beginning – after getting rescheduled three times – we came back and did not lose our energy. I’m so proud of everybody.”
The game actually started on Wednesday, with the teams playing a scoreless half-inning before lightning forced the game to be played Thursday. With the title game looming Friday, both Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter and Kaneland coach Madison Mikos said they wanted to finish the game Thursday.
The game ended at about 9:45 p.m. after starting more than four hours earlier and almost 30 miles away. With the bus ride back from Belvidere to Sycamore, Lantz said the Spartans stayed loose, as well as during the hour-plus lighting delay in Belvidere.
“We were jamming out to music, having a good time,” Lantz said. “We were playing games. I think that’s what kept our energy to the later innings after the rescheduling of the games.”
So with the help of the Sycamore Girls Softball league in sacrificing a field and Tom Pritchett and the Sycamore High grounds crew, the field was ready to go by 8 p.m. when the teams arrived from Belvidere North, with Sycamore leading 1-0. Lantz had a double to score the first run of the game.
“Coach Carp and I were on the same page. We really didn’t want to push them one more day,” Mikos said. “We played half an inning yesterday for an hour bus ride, so that’s two hours of our lives yesterday. Today I know Belvidere North was really trying to get our game in today and we really appreciated that, but pushing it here made sense.”
Lantz added an RBI double in the third then scored on a Snodgrass single for a 3-0 Sycamore (28-10) lead. The Knights (17-17) scored their only run in the top of the fifth when Gabby Gonzales singled home Mack Hardy.
Lantz and Tia Durst added RBI hits in the bottom of the fifth and Bella Jacobs scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to 6-1, then Snodgrass’ bomb in the sixth made it 9-1.
Kaneland managed just two hits off Sycamore pitchers Allysa Wilkerson and Addison Dierschow in the loss. The Knights had won five straight heading in and finished Mikos’ first year .500.
“For my first year... we’re really proud of these girls,” Mikos said. “We started out strong but we really had a lot to learn. I think moving to forward to this point and getting a regional championship and making it here was big for this group and big for us.”
The Spartans advance to the title game against Sterling at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The teams played on May 16 at Sterling with the hosts winning, 7-6.
“It’s anybody’s game at this point,” Carpenter said. “You’re down to the Sweet 16. Sometimes you need a little luck on your side. I’m glad we don’t have school tomorrow so everyone can sleep after this long day and regroup a little bit.”