BLOOMINGTON – Madi Reeves unleashed her last pitch, pumped her fist at the result and threw her glove toward the Yorkville dugout in triumph.
On the precipice of program history, she couldn’t have been better.
The Foxes’ senior and Miami of Ohio recruit struck out 16 in a three-hit shutout. Reeves’ latest masterpiece sent Yorkville past Bradley-Bourbonnais 2-0 in Monday’s Class 4A Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional and to the state tournament for the first time in program history.
“We’re never settled, but for this team it means a lot just to make history for Yorkville softball,” Reeves said. “Everybody here, we just wanted it more.”
Sara Ebner and Sam Davidowski had run-scoring singles and Makenzie Sweeney was 2-for-3 with a triple and scored both runs for Yorkville (35-2), which advances to play Oak Park-River Forest in a Class 4A semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday in Peoria.
“This is just so incredible,” said Ebner, a Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit. “As soon as the season started the vision has always been state. This means so much to all the seniors. Me and Madi started crying this means so much.”
Reeves, Ebner and Davidowski were sophomores on the Yorkville team two years ago that won its first sectional championship. Reeves, though, struggled at times with her command in a 5-1 supersectional loss that time to Minooka, a team that, like Bradley-Bourbonnais, the Foxes had beaten during the regular season.
She was in vintage form in her return to this stage.
Reeves (25-1) took a perfect game until two out in the fourth inning, and did not walk a batter in a razor-sharp performance, her ninth shutout of the season. Yorkville coach Jory Regnier’s eyes welled up in tears of pride at the manner in which Reeves handled the moment.
“She was her best self today, she really was. I can’t really ask for more,” Regnier said. “This is still a really big stage. She really gave us her everything out here. She wasn’t going to walk away not leaving it out here on the field.”
Reeves, who recorded her 900th career strikeout in the sectional final, has given up just one run in five postseason starts.
“I think knowing we’d been here, we knew what we all wanted. We have the drive, we have everything we need,” Reeves said. “I just have the experience now to be able to perform like I did today.”
Yorkville, as it has throughout its playoff run, provided Reeves with early run support.
Sweeney tripled to deep right field to lead off the bottom of the first off Bradley-Bourbonnais starter Libby Spaulding, a Western Illinois recruit.
Spaulding came back to strike out the next two batters, but Ebner pulled a two-strike single to left to score Sweeney for the 1-0 lead.
Ebner had homered twice off Spaulding in Yorkville’s 5-4 win over Bradley-Bourbonnais in April, and got the pitch she wanted Monday.
“We knew for sure that she was going to come out and throw some outside pitches to us,” Ebner said. “That last pitch she threw an inside pitch and I took advantage of it. I was just trying to do my job for the team. Not too much pressure, it was only the first inning. I just took a deep breath like I always do.”
Sweeney singled to lead off the third inning, stole second and took third on a throwing error. With two outs, Spaulding elected to pitch around Ebner, passing the baton to Davidowski. The Foxes’ No. 5 hitter lined the first pitch she saw from Spaulding for a single to right field to score Sweeney with the second run.
“For me, I just feel the first pitch is the best pitch. I needed to jump on the first pitch right away,” Davidowski said. “I just pretended like it was any other game. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on me.”
That was plenty of support for Reeves, who finished with a flourish, striking out the side in the seventh.
“She came out and pitched a phenomenal game – and they have a great lineup,” Regnier said. “She knew what she needed to do and executed exactly how she should. She has grown so much as a leader. As a sophomore she was a dominant player, yes, but she’s at a different level now because of her mentality.”