OSWEGO – The Yorkville softball team hadn’t been in the position it encountered going into Thursday’s Southwest Prairie Conference matchup with Oswego East.
Coming off a conference loss.
The Foxes suffered their first league loss of the season Wednesday at West Aurora.
So the No. 5-ranked team in the most current Illinois Softball Coaches Association Class 4A poll was competing in uncharted grounds of sorts as they turned to their star pitcher to get them back on track.
Junior hurler Madi Reeves did just that, throwing a complete-game five-hit shutout with nine strikeouts as the recent University of Miami of Ohio commit led her team to a bounce-back 2-0 conference victory on the road in Oswego.
“I was just taking today inning by inning after we lost yesterday so I wasn’t trying to over think anything,” Reeves said. “I knew we needed to rebound so I wanted to do all that I could to make that happen. I thought I had good control today and got ahead a lot in the count. It was a nice win to get after a conference loss which we hadn’t experienced this season until yesterday.”
Yorkville (23-4, 13-1 SPC) also relied on some small-ball to earn the win, manufacturing single runs in the fourth and fifth innings while leaning on Reeves’ performance as well to right the ship.
“It was a very satisfying win today against a very good team and the great conference we play in,” Yorkville coach Jory Regnier said. “Madi pitched well to lead us and we were able to execute some small-ball to get back on track today.”
Oswego East (14-11, 8-6) received a tremendous pitching performance itself from senior Mackenzie Gatz, who allowed just one earned run on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
But the Wolves just couldn’t push anything past the plate, leaving the tying runs on second and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Like last year, the teams could meet a third time in the postseason. That would be a regional final May 27 at Oswego East.
“I thought Kenzie (Gatz) did a great job in the circle today and we had opportunities to score but we just couldn’t get a timely hit,” Oswego East coach Sarah Davie said. “You’ve almost have to be perfect in a game like this against a great pitcher (Reeves) that they have. Hopefully we’ll see them again in the post season.”
After three scoreless innings, Yorkville produced its first run. Senior Avery Nehring led off and reached on an infield single in the hole that Wolves senior shortstop Gracie Vlach just couldn’t corral after a valiant effort.
Senior Ellie Alvarez then placed a beautiful sacrifice bunt that pushed junior courtesy runner Julia Hupp to second. Junior Sara Ebner followed by lofting a sky ball into foul territory which was recorded for an out by Wolves senior first baseman Morgan Robertson. But with Robertson retreating on the catch Hupp alertly tagged at second on the catch and forced a throw to third which bounced away allowing Hupp to scamper home on the miscue to give Yorkville a 1-0 advantage.
“She (Hupp) is so quick and to read that ball the way she did when it was in the air and get all the way home was huge and a big momentum switch for us,” Regnier said.
The Foxes would add another tally in the fifth. After one out, Regan Bishop walked and was replaced on the base paths by pinch-runner Katlyn Schraeder. Mackenzie Sweeney then sacrifice bunted Schraeder to second before junior Abigail Pool drove in Schraeder with an RBI single down the line in left to give Yorkville a 2-0 lead.
The Wolves had a chance to score in the sixth when Vlach led off with a single but was eventually thrown out at the plate after Ebner fielded the ball at third and fired to catcher Nehring at the dish to cut down Vlach on the nifty defensive gem.
Oswego East wasn’t done, however, providing some drama in the bottom of the seventh recording one out singles from sophomore Mary Kate Quaid and Gatz. Each advanced a base into game tying scoring positions on a wild pitch.
But Reeves ultimately closed the door with her eighth and ninth strike outs of the ballgame to secure the hard fought win for the visitors.
“We needed this after yesterday and all I could think about was getting those last two after they had a couple of runners on,” Reeves said. “I was pretty pumped up with those last two strikeouts. Now we’ve got to take this and build toward the post season.”