Softball: Little Lundin Cornelius comes through for Oswego East in walk-off win over Yorkville

Cornelius drives in Ronnie Craft as Wolves finally beat Foxes in 8-7 wild one

Oswego East's Ronnie Craft (6) celebrates her winning run during softball game between Yorkville at Oswego East. April 17th, 2024.

OSWEGO – Little Lundin Cornelius might not look like the typical cleanup hitter, but don’t be fooled by the Oswego East junior’s frame.

“She’s a little thing,” Oswego East coach Sarah Davies said, “but she’s got a lot of power. She had a grand slam in the regional final last year. We know the power is there.”

Cornelius kept coming up with big hits for the Wolves Wednesday. But the one that went the shortest distance proved the biggest.

Cornelius’ chopper up the first-base line scored Ronnie Craft ahead of the throw home, giving Oswego East an 8-7 walk-off win over visiting Yorkville in a wild one on a windy afternoon in Oswego.

Cornelius singled in Craft in a three-run Oswego East first inning, and singled in Finley Anderson in a three-run second.

She set her expectations lower with Anderson at second and Craft at third and one out in the seventh.

“I’m just trying to put the ball in play there, get Ronnie in,” Cornelius said.

For Craft and the Wolves (9-8, 2-2), it was an exhilarating win beyond the late-game drama.

Yorkville (8-8, 1-3) beat Oswego East eight consecutive times over the last three seasons, including the 2021 and 2023 sectional semifinals.

Oswego East's Ronnie Craft (6) slides in to score the winning run during softball game between Yorkville at Oswego East. April 17th, 2024.

That was history not lost on the Wolves’ coach or Craft, a third-year varsity player.

“This feels very good,” Craft said. “This is my third year on varsity and we haven’t beat them once. For me, this is like our rival, one of our biggest games. I love playing them. It’s a good win.”

Much-needed for the Wolves, too, 3-6 over their last nine games coming in. Craft made sure that ended Wednesday, starting scoring rallies with singles in the first, second and seventh innings while reaching base four times.

“She always does,” Davies said. “That’s why she is in that spot. She is confident up there, so smart about her approach, whoever pitching how to read them. That’s why she is there.”

Cornelius, on the other hand, hasn’t always had a hold on the cleanup spot. Davies said she’s moved her around in different spots the last two years. Cornelius missed time as a sophomore after colliding with then-Oswego East center fielder Mia Corres.

Oswego East's Lundin Cornelius (2) knocks in he winning run during softball game between Yorkville at Oswego East. April 17th, 2024.

But Cornelius has been a revelation this season, hitting .469 with nine extra-base hits and a team-high 18 RBIs.

“Everything I could have ever asked,” Davies said. “She’s given us that push in the middle.”

In a back-and-forth game, Oswego East scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, Yorkville came back with four in the second but the Wolves answered with another three in the bottom half. Anderson, who was 2 for 3 and reached base four times, doubled in Craft to make it 4-4 and scored on Cornelius’ single.

Ellie Fox, who was 3 for 3 and reached base four times for Yorkville, homered with two out in the fourth to close the Foxes within 6-5, and they tied it with an unearned run in the fifth. Kayla Kersting’s RBI groundout scored Jensen Krantz, who reached base three times, in the sixth to swing Yorkville back ahead 7-6.

“They battled the whole way,” Yorkville coach Jory Regnier said. “We were executing, doing what we needed to do, moving runners along. Can’t be disappointed with how we fought.”

Yorkville's Ellie Fox (13) is greeted at the plate after hitting a homerun during softball game between Yorkville at Oswego East. April 17th, 2024.

Four outs from yet another loss to Yorkville, Oswego East got a two-out pinch-hit double in the sixth from Tristin Hyland, who scored on Katie Maday’s single.

“I was like not again, come on, hold it together, we can do this,” Davies said. “I said before we came back, this is our game to win and if you don’t believe it you have to change your attitude.”

Yorkville, conference champs the last two years, has dropped three consecutive games to SPC West opponents.

But it’s a new year, a new team, and learning experiences.

“We’re getting a lot of experience right now,” Regnier said. “That is one of the things we lacked coming into the season, and that’s OK. That’s all we have asked the kids to do is get better every time we get out there and that’s what they’ve done.”