Softball: Oswego’s eight-run third inning leads to win in Class 4A third place game over Mundelein

The Panthers win first state tournament game in program history

Members of the Oswego softball team pose with the  Class 4A third place trophy on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.

PEORIA – After three straight low-scoring games, Oswego knew it had to resort back to the play style that got it to this point.

Piling on runs.

And with the score tied 3-3 heading into the bottom half of the third inning in the Class 4A third place game against Mundelein, that’s exactly what happened

“Once one of them gets started and gets that big hit, it’s like a parade,” Oswego coach Paul Netzel said. “As coaches, we’re starting to accept that it’s a possibility.”

The Panthers put up eight runs in the inning off of nine hits to lead them to a 12-7 victory over the Mustangs for the program’s first ever win in the state tournament to secure a third place finish and cap off a historic season.

Of the eight runs that came in the inning, seven of them came with two outs. Kaylee LaChappell got the two-out rally going after slapping a two-run triple down the left field line to push the score to 6-3.

“It hit the best spot of the barrel and it just kept going,” LaChappell said. “As I was running I was just thinking ‘Oh my gosh, this is great. This is what we needed.’”

Oswego's Jaelyn Anthony smacks a hit against Mundelein during the Class 4A third place game on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.

After that, the hits just kept coming for the Panthers, who finished the season with a program-best 29 wins. The Panthers finished the game with 17 hits, with LaChappell, Marissa Moffett, Kiyah Chavez and Jaelynn Anthony each finishing the game with three hits.

After only managing four hits in the 2-1 loss to eventual state champion St. Charles North in Friday’s state semifinal, Netzel said that while the loss stuck with the coaches for quite a bit, the players managed to move on from it a bit quicker.

“We’re already here. We’ve already made history as a team, whether we got first or fourth,” Moffett said. “That was the mentality that we had.”

Oswego started the game off hot, getting five of its first six batters on base. Aubriella Garza got the first run on the board after drawing a walk with the bases loaded. Two batters later, Anthony lined a two-run double to give the Panthers an early 3-0 advantage.

“We knew that we wanted to score in every inning and that we needed to outperform the other team each inning,” Anthony said.

Mundelein (36-3) wouldn’t go down quietly, though. After loading the bases for the second time in three innings, the Mustangs tied the game in just two pitches in the third inning. Lillian Scardicchio was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and a wild pitch scored two more runs.

After seeing the score get drawn at 3-3, Netzel made a move to the bullpen for the first time all postseason and put Garza on the mound, who immediately forced a double play to end the threat.

“We weren’t expecting them to hit our pitchers as well as they did,” Netzel said. “I was a little upset that we just got lackadaisical to give up those three runs and I put her in to lock it down and stop the bleeding.”

Oswego's Rhiana Martinez and Marissa Moffett react after scoring a run against Mundelein during the Class 4A third place game on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.

Garza would give up two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to the Mustangs, with only two of those runs earned. But Anthony returned to the circle in the sixth inning and closed the door with two scoreless innings.

“I knew that I just had to do a job and help my team out any way that I could,” Anthony said.

Despite losing two key leadoff hitters in Moffett and LaChappell to graduation, who leave the program at No. 1 and 2 respectively on the team’s all-time run scorers, the Panthers will return a majority of their starters for the 2025 season.

And after getting their first taste of the state title this season, the goal is already set for the next.

“We want that first place trophy next year,” Netzel said. “The girls are already talking about it. You can’t always get it on your first shot, but we have the experience and know what it takes to get there.”