Beecher softball coach Kevin Hayhurst expected to have a full scouting report on Westmont in his hands within a couple of hours of his team's 9-2 win Saturday over the hosts in the Reed-Custer Class 2A Sectional title game.
"You're still going to play to your strengths," Hayhurst said, "but you have to prepare for the pitcher you're going to see.
"They've played 39 games now. Their ability to make adjustments is really good at this point."
Beecher (32-7) meets Westmont (20-8) at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Rosemont Stadium Super-Sectional. The winner advances to the state semifinals for a 5:30 p.m. Friday contest against the winner of the Johnston City super.
The Ladycats like their chances to advance to East Peoria for the first time since winning the state title in 2007 — and not simply because Hayhurst knew Reed-Custer, a team Beecher beat three times during the season, knocked off Westmont 8-1 on May 9.
"I think we're very focused right now," Hayhurst said. "We're very locked in on our game plan and on what we need to do to beat those teams.
"The girls are peaking at the right time. They're getting better as we speak."
Other common opponents — Beecher beat Coal City, Wilmington and Peotone in the regular season, all teams that handed losses to Westmont — would lend the Ladycats more confidence, if they needed it.
"We're played really good in the playoffs," Hayhurst said. "We're making teams earn what they get. The girls are confident their bats can overcome a run or two if the other team scores."
That's been a big "if."
Beecher's senior ace, Sarah Crews (22-3, 2.17 ERA), has allowed two earned runs in the playoffs. The Ladycats have made one error over their last three games.
And why not have confidence in the offense? Beecher is hitting .425 as a team. Of the nine batters in Saturday's starting lineup, six were hitting .396 or better and none lower than .321.
Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Taylor Johnson (.587, 16 HR, 63 RBIs) and Crews (.573, 10, 62) get most of the attention. Bbut consider that the hitter in front of them, Emily Landis (.444, 11 2B, 41 R) keyed the offense with four hits in the sectional semis, and the hitter behind them, Sydney Zupan (.427, 32 RBIs) went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs in the win over Reed-Custer.
Landis, a junior catcher, has been on a tear over the last six games, lifting her batting average 56 points, while Zupan, a sophomore third baseman, has tacked on 10 points.
Zupan reflected the attitude that seems to have taken hold of all of the Ladycats, saying, "If we're on our 'A' game like we've been, we can take state.
"We've been playing really hard this season. As long as we do that, we'll be good."