PALOS HEIGHTS | Illiana Christian coach Mike Oppenhuis knew going into Saturday's 2A Agricultural Science Regional championship game that Chicago Christian was going to be ready to play.
The Knights came out and scored five runs in the top of the first and two runs the next three innings on their way to a 17-4 win in six innings over Illiana Christian.
Illiana Christian bounced back with four runs in the bottom of the first but were held scoreless the rest of the game. A six-run sixth by Chicago Christian put the game away.
"All season long we've been waiting for today," Oppenhuis said. "We expected all along we'd see Chicago Christian again and I told the girls, '(Kevin Pittman) is going to have his team ready to play, so we better be ready'.
"We were nervous. We were tight to start out."
Illiana Christian (11-11) used five straight hits in the bottom of the first to cut the Chicago Christian lead to 5-4.
Alexa Van Beek hit a two-run double to make it 5-3 before Brooke Van Der Aa drove in Van Beek in the next at bat. Illiana Christian's Katherine Witting was 3-for-3 and came around to score in the bottom of the first on Van Beek's double.
"I was proud of us coming back in the first," Witting said. "It was a good feeling, but I guess we didn't keep going. We were excited to play."
The Vikings' defense struggled on the day with four errors. Chicago Christian did not have a scoreless inning at the plate until the fifth.
"I had pretty high hopes after we were able to come back and score four in the first," Oppenhuis said. "Then we started swinging at stuff we can't hit hard. It was OK, until we started swinging at stuff like that."