CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Illiana Christian's softball squad had a morning doubleheader on Saturday. The Vikings also had a 6:30 a.m. fundraiser first.
All this on the heels of Friday evening's contest with T.F. South, which saw the Vikings departing the Lansing Sports Complex around 9 p.m.
"It's the Pancake Pacer — a 5K walk/race and breakfast," Illiana coach Allie Cable said. "All the athletes are required to be there and help set up and serve pancakes."
So, a syrup-slow start for the VIkings in Saturday's opener against Bloom couldn't be blamed on a hangover from the loss to the Rebels?
"I think it was the pancakes," Vikings shortstop Amanda Van Kalker said. "At the end, when all the runners were gone, we were like, 'Hey, hit me up with a pancake.'"
Eventually, Illiana's batters overcame the batter, knocking out 23 hits over a 9-4, 15-2 sweep of the Blazing Trojans.
Van Kalker had four hits and four RBIs on the day, including two doubles and three RBIs in Game 1. Freshman first baseman Ashley Wiltjer also had four hits, while scoring three times and driving in a run in Game 2.
"No one really started hitting until the top of the fifth (in the first game)," Van Kalker said. "It's been a long week."
Illiana (8-10), which had played eight games in the seven days preceding Saturday's twin bill, made it a long day for Bloom (7-10) from that point on.
Trailing 3-2, the Vikings scored three times in the fifth, Van Kalker, Andi DiNuzzo and Heather Wiltjer driving in runs. They added four more in the sixth, Van Kalker's two-run double the key blow.
"Last year, I wasn't hitting as well as I am now," Van Kalker said. "My coach, Allie, is a big help. She's been there before. She knows what to do."
A third baseman/shortstop at Illiana and Trinity Christian University, Cable was coached by Lansing native and former Florida Marlins farmhand Brad Rohde.
"It's a very baseball mentality," she said of her hitting philosophy. "When you're up at the plate, you're always thinking 'yes.'
"It's 'Yes, yes, yes,' until it's a ball. Then, it's 'no.'"
The Game 1 fireworks made a winner of Heather Wiltjer, Ashley's twin. Heather (3-6) went the distance, allowing just four hits while striking out four. Morgan Zimmerman had two of the Blazing Trojans' hits, including an RBI double.
In the finale, the Vikings made use of 14 walks and a hit batsman from Bloom pitcher Katie Fredrick. Brooke Van Der Aa (5-4), bouncing back from a tough, 2-1 loss to T.F. South, scattered six hits and struck out three to earn the win.
Hayley Smith's two-run single in the third accounted for Bloom's runs. DiNuzzo had two RBI singles to key a Vikings lineup that saw every hitter reach base.