Softball: WFC has all the answers in 3-2 senior-day win over Dwight

Simons, Connor help lead Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell to triumph

Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell cleanup hitter Ella Derossett stands ready as the Dwight battery of pitcher Madi Ely and catcher Avery Scheuer execute a pitch-and-catch Monday, May 6, 2024, at Woodland School in rural Streator.

RURAL STREATOR – Visiting Dwight took a one-run lead in the top of the first inning only to see Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell tie the game and then immediately take a one-run lead of its own in the home half of the second.

The Trojans then tied it in the visitors’ sixth, only to have the Warriors answer with a run of their own. Shae Simons singled, was bunted to third by fellow senior Kaiden Connor and scoring on a soft-hit but perfectly-placed Tiffany Rustman infield single in their half of the sixth. When Simons worked a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, the run she scored proved to be the game winner in WFC’s 3-2 Tri-County topping of Dwight on Monday.

The victory came on Senior Day for WFC (13-8 overall, 7-8 TCC), with the Warriors celebrating Connor and Simons along with fellow seniors Cloee Johnston and Emma Highland, both injured during volleyball season and unable to play.

“We decided we wanted to win this game, not just for [Shae and I], but for the other seniors, we wanted to win,” Connor said. “That was a big motivation for today.

“We’ve all played since sixth grade and know each other very well. Unfortunately, two of us did [get injured] during volleyball season, but having them here and supporting us ... that’s been great.”

The Trojans (12-10 overall, 7-5 TCC) managed only three hits Monday, the biggest being Avery Scheuer’s line-shot RBI double to left-center to score Njomza Asllani with two outs in the sixth. It tied the game 2-all and delivered some energy to a Dwight dugout quieted by the Warriors after the first-inning run. As they did with their two-run second inning, however, the Warriors quickly and definitively responded.

“I feel like we had one bad inning with a couple errors, and it kind of spiraled down from that,” Trojans coach Dezi Leonard said. “We knew coming into this it’d be a fight, and I thought we put up a good fight, but we have to work on our hitting.

“As you can see, 13 strikeouts isn’t going to win us any ballgames.”

While Rustman proved to be the day’s most effective hitter going 2 for 3 with two RBIs, Simons and Connor were the rally-starting stars on Senior Day. Connor’s leadoff single and run scored in the second was echoed by Simons doing the same in the sixth.

Simons also tossed a complete-game victory, allowing two earned runs on three hits and one walk while striking out 13. The eighth of those 13 Ks was the 700th strikeout of her varsity career.

Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell's Shae Simons

“I don’t know what else you could say about Shae,” Warriors coach Mike Hoesktra said. “She’s the heartbeat of the team now for four years. Kaiden Connor has floated around playing everywhere for us over the years and found her home in center field.

“And, of course, we’re missing the other two playing the corners for us but all four, whether it was their freshman year, their junior year, this year, whatever, have all made an impact on our team as a whole.”

Simons’ counterpart, Dwight pitcher Madi Ely, was plenty effective herself, finishing with a line of three runs (one earned) on six hits, one walk and six strikeouts over six innings. Megan Livingston drew a leadoff walk and scored the game’s opening run in the top of the first and later doubled for one of the Trojans’ three hits.

WFC’s Olivia Chismarick tripled and was stranded in the first.

Dwight is scheduled to host the Warriors on the Trojans’ own Senior Day at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

J.T. Pedelty

J.T. Pedelty

J.T. is a graduate of Streator High School, Illinois Valley Community College and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale who is some 25 years into an award-winning sports journalism career.