WHEATFIELD | Lauren Stokes hit an RBI single to tie the score 4-4 in the fourth inning.
From there, Kankakee Valley went on to score five more times in the frame, including a pair on Bre Toppen’s game-winning single, and the Kougars picked up a 10-4 win over Times No. 7 Wheeler.
In its six-run fourth inning, Kankakee Valley picked up five hits – all singles – and walked twice while taking advantage of a stolen base, a sacrifice bunt and a Wheeler error. Mckenzie Adams led off the frame with a single and scored the first run of the rally before driving in the sixth run with her second single of the inning.
“I liked what our slappers did today,” KV coach Brian Flynn said. “They bunted, they slapped, they hit, they did everything they’re supposed to do, and it makes it tough on the defense to defend that. They really did their job today and I’m really proud of them for that.”
The Kougars trailed early after a two-run run home run by Nickole Finch and an RBI single by Faith Barajas in the first inning. But a run-scoring groundout in the second inning proved to be the end of the Wheeler offense, which was shut out by KV over the final five innings.
“We were down (3-0 after the top of the first) and we were really, really hurting,” Flynn said. “I think the girls were out of the game. Fortunately, it didn’t stay that way.”
Kankakee Valley chipped away with two runs in the bottom of the first and a run in the third before blowing the game open in the fourth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate.
“I think it’s maybe that it’s the third time for some of the girls to see the pitcher and they started to maybe get the timing a little bit better,” Flynn said of the rally. “That tends to happen in games as the go along; with good hitters, they’ll eventually catch on to whatever the pitcher’s throwing and get better at bats.”
Mackenzie Dunlap led off the bottom of the fifth inning with an opposite-field home run to give the game its final 10-4 tally and finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and three runs scored. Lauren Cambe went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored while Adams went 3-for-4 out of the nine hole with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.
“It was certainly a confidence boost,” Flynn said. “We’d lost two in a row and we only scored one run in that length of time. We’ve got a tough schedule coming up; we play a really tough schedule so we’ve got to just keep learning from every game and trying to compete in the next one.”