HUNTLEY – Huntley coach Mark Petryniec gave sophomore second baseman Sadie Svendsen permission to swing away after a one-out single by Katie Mitchell in the bottom of the third inning during Friday’s Class 4A Huntley Regional final.
For a Red Raiders team that usually likes to take things one base at a time, Svendsen, who went the entire regular season without a home run, was not the team’s most likely power source.
Petryniec’s hunch to let Svendsen swing away instead of advancing the runner proved key, as the Raiders’ 5-foot, 1-inch No. 2 hitter came through with Huntley’s biggest and loudest hit of the day, sending a 1-0 pitch from McHenry starting pitcher Channing Keppy over the center-field fence.
Svendsen’s two-run homer provided just enough cushion for senior pitcher Juliana Maude, who allowed only one unearned run in a complete-game victory to lead the Raiders past the Warriors 3-1 to earn their eighth straight regional championship.
Here’s the full video of Sadie Svendsen’s homer. Huntley leads 2-0, mid 4th. @HuntleySoftball @SadieSvendsen pic.twitter.com/lmnTk6zfVM— Alex Kantecki (@akantecki) May 26, 2023
Huntley (26-7), 16-1 over its past 17 games, advances to face Hampshire – a 4-2 winner against Hononegah in the Hampshire Regional title game – in a Hononegah Sectional semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Svendsen now has two homers this year after getting her first in a 16-0 win over Jacobs in the semifinals.
“Two in the playoffs is pretty cool,” said Svendsen, who has four extra-base hits in two playoff games. “I want to go far and help my seniors and my team in any way. It was an awesome feeling. I knew I got that one.”
“We played a hunch,” Petryniec said. “Normally, for our type of team, that’s a bunting situation, but [Svendsen] got the green light to swing away and took advantage. Just backed off the plate and got the right pitch and got all of it.”
Maude, meanwhile, held the Warriors (22-8-1) to four hits, striking out three and walking none. She retired the first nine batters in order before giving up a leadoff single to start the fourth.
Maude, a North Central College commit, has been a part of the past two regional titles for the Raiders.
“It means a lot,” Maude said of winning a regional title. “Just to play for the name on my jersey and to play for this community is special. Eight regionals [in a row] is insane. It means a lot to keep it going. It’s exciting, and we have more to come.
“We’re not done yet.”
McHenry scored its only run on a fielding error in the sixth. Jadyn Polerecky made a heads-up play and scored all the way from second base after Keppy hit a hard ground ball to second base that was misplayed.
“I want to go far and help my seniors and my team in any way. It was an awesome feeling. I knew I got that one.”— Sadie Svendsen, Huntley sophomore
Keppy had a solid game for the Warriors, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings. She struck out four and walked one.
“Same old thing she does. She’s so calm out there,” McHenry coach Mikaela Mitsch said. “She was on top of her game. Even when she gets behind [in the count], she just comes back stronger. Her changeup was crazy. You couldn’t ask any more of her or anyone else on our team today.
“One through 15, we were strong, we were in it and we were all excited to be here.”
Huntley’s Meg Ryan went 2 for 3 with a double, teammates Hudgens and Katie Mitchell each had a hit and a run scored, and Ava McFadden was 1 for 1 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning for the Raiders’ third run.
Polerecky, Abby Geis, Maddie Hoffman and Kornfeind had hits for the Warriors.
McHenry will lose four seniors to graduation: Geis, Emma Stolzman, Cooper Ten Bruin and Beth Snyder. Geis and Stolzman will play at Wisconsin-Stevens Point and room together.
“They were my first four-year players,” Mitsch said of her four seniors. “They made more impact on me than they’ll ever know. Those four are all so different from each other, and I can’t wait to see what they do. I know they’re going to do great things.”