Softball: Bolduc, Dimitrijevic lead Lincoln-Way Central to 1-0 win over Lincoln-Way West

Lincoln-Way Central’s Jamiee Bolduc drives in the only run against Lincoln-Way West on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in New Lenox.

NEW LENOX – Jaimee Bolduc hasn’t started a lot of games this season for Lincoln-Way Central.

But with starting first baseman Josie Jager absent because of illness Tuesday, Bolduc got her chance against SouthWest Suburban Conference rival Lincoln-Way West.

Bolduc made the most of her opportunity, going 2 for 3 and driving in the only run in the Knights’ 1-0 victory in a classic pitcher’s duel between Central’s Lisabella Dimitrijevic and West’s Reese Rourke.

Dimitrijevic led off the top of the second with a double to center. A grounder to short moved courtesy runner Mia Degliomini to third, bringing up Bolduc. The Knights’ junior grounded a single back through the middle, bringing home Degliomini with what ended up being the only run of the game.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play on the ground,” Bolduc said. “We saw in the first inning on a ball that Kayla Doerre hit that anything in the air wasn’t going anywhere with the wind blowing in the way it was. I just wanted to hit it down and hard. I did, and it found a hole.

“Once we get a run or two we feel pretty good with Bella on the mound.”

That feeling was with good reason, as the Florida State-bound Dimitrijevic held West (17-9, 6-6) scoreless on four hits and one walk while striking out eight. The strikeouts gave the junior a total of 701 for her career, and she retired 12 of the last 13 batters she faced for Central (27-4, 13-0).

Lincoln-Way Central’s Lucy Cameron tags out Lincoln-Way West’s Reese Rourke as she attempts to score on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in New Lenox.

“It makes it easier for me to pitch when we have a lead,” Dimitrijevic said. “I know the offense has my back, and our defense did a great job today. They usually don’t have to make as many plays as they had to today, but we made some real good plays in the field.

“I knew coming into the game that I was close to 700 strikeouts, but I wasn’t sure exactly how close I was. I wasn’t counting them or anything. I knew I had to go to more off-speed pitches because West’s hitters know me pretty well. I knew I had to change things up on them.”

West’s Reese Rourke matched Dimitrijevic nearly pitch for pitch. She allowed only four hits as well and struck out seven. Rourke also had two of the Warriors’ four hits. In the bottom of the third, she singled with one out and went to second on a comebacker by Reese Forsythe. Molly Finn followed with a single to center and Rourke tried to score but was cut down by a perfect throw by Central center fielder Kendall Pearson.

“This was a great high school softball game between two really good teams,” West coach Heather Novak said. “Bella did a good job of keeping us off balance, and Reese pretty much matched her. Both teams made the defensive plays they needed to make. It was just a fun game. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end.”

Lincoln-Way Central’s Lisabella Dimitrijevic delivers a pitch against Lincoln-Way West on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in New Lenox.

The Warriors had a chance in the bottom of the seventh. Reese Cusack led off with a double to right and was sacrificed to third by Olivia Calderone. Dimitrijevic then recorded her eighth strikeout before inducing a grounder to short to end the game.

“That was a little too close,” Central coach Jeff Tarala said. “Jaimee Bolduc really stepped up today. We have seniors all around our infield, so she has just continued to work hard and wait her turn. Josie Jager couldn’t be here today, and Jaimee stepped in and got the job done.

“We made all the plays we needed to in the field, and we got the big hit when we needed it. We are going to need all three phases of the game – pitching, hitting and defense – to be going well once the postseason starts.”