Softball: Kaylee Almone’s clutch single lifts Plainfield South past Plainfield East

Plainfield South's Kaylee Almone

PLAINFIELD – Runs were hard to come by Monday in a pitchers’ duel between Plainfield South’s Regina Glover and Plainfield East’s Avery Welsh.

In fact, base runners in general were rare.

Welsh was particularly dominant, as she struck out seven of the first eight batters she faced before South’s Ava Forsberg got the game’s first hit with a double. Welsh then struck out the next hitter and no damage was done.

The Cougars (6-9, 2-1) did all of their damage in the top of the fourth inning, scoring three times and holding on the rest of the way for a 3-2 Southwest Prairie Conference victory.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Lauren Pell and Ariana Olinger each reached base on an error, putting runners on first and second. Hailie Boardman then laid down a bunt that got past the pitcher. With the East shortstop moving to cover third on the play, the ball rolled and came to a stop just short of the outfield grass, allowing Pell to score all the way from second for the game’s first run.

Welsh struck out the next batter and got two strikes on Kaylee Almone. Almone worked the count full, fouling off three two-strike pitches along the way. She finally got a pitch she could handle and lined it into right field, scoring Olinger and Boardman, who had moved up on a passed ball.

“We knew [Welsh] had a good rise ball, so I fouled a couple of them off,” Almone said. “It was a matter of taking a deep breath and relaxing. I got a pitch I liked and I swung hard. I like the saying, ‘Swing hard in case you hit it.’

“So I swung hard and I was able to drive it into right field.”

Plainfield South held onto the lead as Glover limited East to two hits, a double and a solo home run by East’s Rhiannon McKay. The Cougars also played errorless defense and got a spectacular diving catch in short right field by second baseman Gianna Zumhall and a leaping catch off a popped-up bunt by Almone charging in from third.

“Our defense was really good, and we had good energy all game,” Almone said. “Regina pitched amazing, and we did a good job backing her up. Gianna made an amazing catch on that popup. On the bunt, I was charging when she squared around to bunt and wanted to get right up on her. Then I saw it go in the air and I just jumped. I didn’t have time to think. I just reacted.”

East (5-6, 2-1) got a run back in the bottom of the fourth. McKay led off with a double and courtesy runner Marie Marcum went to third on a wild pitch. Marcum scored on a grounder to short by Joey Erkenswick. McKay homered with one out in the bottom of the sixth to provide the Bengals’ other run.

The tough-luck loss was taken by Welsh, who struck out 14 and allowed only four hits. None of the three South runs were earned.

“When you have 14 strikeouts by your pitcher and she only gives up four hits, it’s a tough game to lose,” East coach Rebekah Grimes said. “But we only had two hits and we made four errors, so that was pretty frustrating.

“Plainfield South made all the plays in the field. We typically hit a lot more line drives and hard-hit grounders than we did today. Today, we didn’t make very good adjustments and we had 10 to 12 flyball outs. We will use this as a learning experience.”

South coach Tara Miller was pleased with her team’s play.

“We did all the little things right,” Miller said. “We talk about that all the time. You do the little things well and when you get a big thing, good things happen. Today, we put the ball in play and made adjustments at the plate, either pitch-to-pitch or at-bat to at-bat. I was so proud of Kaylee the way she had a quality at-bat and fouled off a lot of pitches. Those kinds of at-bats not only help you, but it helps the rest of the team because it gets the pitcher tired.

“Regina Glover did a great job on the mound. She had an inning where she walked two, but she came right back and got out of the inning. After she gave up a home run, she came right back and got the next two batters out.”