PEORIA – The Forreston softball team capped a magical postseason run with one final thrilling victory Saturday, scoring twice in the top of the eighth inning to defeat Newark 4-2 in the third-place game at the Class 1A state tournament at the Louisville Slugger Complex in Peoria.
After the Cardinals (23-5) saw Newark tie the game with a run in the bottom of the sixth, they re-took the lead in the eighth before senior left-hander Kara Erdmann closed out a complete-game effort by retiring the Norsemen side in order to finish off the victory in the season finale.
It was the fourth time in the last five postseason games that Forreston won by scoring runs in its final at-bat.
“This game was a dogfight. Our girls really wanted to end the season on a win and their goal was to leave it all on the field,” Forreston coach Kim Snider said. “They definitely did that. We had some phenomenal defense, timely hitting and really good pitching. I felt every girl on this team came in with a great mindset today of ‘Forget yesterday and focus on what we have to do today.’”
In the Forreston eighth, Erdmann beat out an one-out infield single off Newark pitcher Kodi Rizzo and advanced to second on an error. Rylee Broshous then stepped in and lined the first pitch she saw to left to score Erdmann and make it 3-2; Broshous moved to second on the throw home.
“It was a good pitch, but an inside pitch that I knew I had to be quick on,” said Broshous, who ended a 12-inning sectional semifinal win over Pearl City with a walk-off homer earlier in this postseason. “My mentality in that situation was to hit the first good pitch I saw and not get behind in the count. I had a little bit of our Pearl City game going through my mind ... I didn’t want this game to go that far.”
Rizzo was able to strikeout the next hitter, but Hailey Greenfield grounded a two-out single to center to plate Broshous.
Erdmann picked up her 15th strikeout of the game to start the eighth before inducing a lineout and flyout. She allowed just five hits, two earned runs and did not walk a batter.
“When you get down here, every team’s lineup 1 through 9 are good, and Newark’s is no exception,” Snider said. “Kara loves working the ball in and out. Her bread-and-butter is her curveball running in on the right-handed hitters, especially with two strikes, and that’s what we went with a lot today.
“She was pretty special today, all season and her whole career for us. It was great to see her end her high school career here at state with a win.”
Newark (31-5-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth when lefty Ryan Williams sliced the first of her two triples in the contest into the left-field corner and scored on a two-out base hit by Peyton Wohead.
“My first at-bat I saw three straight spinners with good movement and I was a little thrown off,” Williams said. “My hitting coach, who is also my dad, told me to move up on the plate and in the box and try and catch the pitch before it moves. My mindset those last two at-bats was to just put the ball in play with a solid swing, and fortunately I did, and the hits found open space.”
The Cardinals rallied in the sixth to take a 2-1 lead, starting with Broshous and Brooke Boettner poking one-out singles off Norsemen starter Kaitlyn Schofield. Hailey Greenfield then greeted reliever Rizzo with an RBI single on the first pitch, with the go-ahead run scoring after a throwing error.
In the Newark half, Williams ripped a two-out triple to right-center before scoring on an 0-2 pitch to Danica Peshia that bounced to the backstop.
Schofield pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, no earned runs or walks and nine strikeouts, while Rizzo went 2 1/3 innings and allowed four hits, two earned runs, and no walks, with four strikeouts.
“[Schofield] is a great pitcher, but it was a little frustrating for the first few innings,” Erdmann said. “We all know that every girl in our lineup can put the bat on the ball. But some of us do better against pitchers that throw harder like she does, but we were even having some trouble. I think the fact that a couple of us were able to get a third look at her in the sixth helped.”
Securing yet another victory by scoring runs in the final inning seemed an appropriate ending for the Cardinals
“This group never, ever quits,” Snider said. “We had two outs and two strikes on our batter in the supersectional and came through with a walk-off win. They just don’t give in.”
Erdmann said she and her teammates were thrilled to put their stamp on the Forreston program by making the team’s first trip to the state softball finals in school history.
“This whole experience has been amazing for all of us,” she said. “This team is a family, everyone is included. This has been a great way to end my high school playing career.”
Despite a pair of losses in Peoria, the Newark players were also appreciative of their opportunity to spend the final weekend of the season as a member of the Final Four for 2022.
“I thought we had really good energy both games this weekend, but things just didn’t work out,” Wohead said. “We all tried to play these two games like any other game, and our coaches told us just to have fun. It’s a little disappointing to not get a win, but we made it here when so many other teams didn’t have the chance to.
“They were all season, but the bus rides have been so fun. Jamming to music and singing together, it’s had a different feel. I think over the season we have become closer as a group, but even more so these last few days.”
Newark coach Tim Schofield was proud of the way his Norsemen played in both games at state, and was happy to see them finish the season battling against another good team.
“I think we were all a little more relaxed coming in here today,” he said. “We had some nerves on Friday with playing the returning state champions, and a first time in this position in the state finals. I feel today [Forreston] was able to get a couple more key hits than we did, and we had a couple of hit balls that could have easily been hits if not for great defensive plays by them.
“It was really just two pretty good teams battling.”
In the 1A state championship game, Illini Bluffs won its second straight 1A title with a 1-0 walk-off win over Casey-Westfield.
I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016.
I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.