WHEATFIELD | One run can often decide the outcome in sectional play. It was no different Tuesday night as one run separated host Kankakee Valley and Hanover Central in Class 3A semifinal action.
Hanover got a superb pitching performance from junior Ashley Yoways as the Wildcats (16-9) advanced with a 1-0 win against the Kougars. Yoways allowed just four hits and struck out five.
“Today, I was just really on I thought,” said Yoways, who confided in her pitching coach, Leslie Malerich, on Wednesday night.
“She just got me back in the groove because I couldn’t throw outside, and today I needed it.”
In the fifth, K.V. (23-7) put runners on second and third with one out. On a squeeze play, Maribeth Strong was out on a close play at the plate. Yoways then got a pop out to get out of the jam.
“All of these girls saved my butt today,” Yoways said.
Hanover will face Andrean, which beat Rensselaer 10-0 in five innings in the second game, at 5 p.m. today.
Hanover coach Larry McMillen wasn’t pleased with his team’s four errors but is happy to be moving on.
“We made plays when we had to, and we got hits when we had to,” he said.
Hanover threw two runners out at the plate, and Jaime Frost caught a sinking liner off the bat of Strong to record the final out of the game.
“We made some pretty good plays,” McMillen said.
Melissa Balkema paced Hanover with two hits, driving in the game’s only run on a single to right with two outs in the third inning.
“I just waited for it, let it get a little deeper and then just took it to right-center,” she said.
K.V. coach Brian Flynn said they’ve been aggressive on the bases all season.
“We took some chances and just didn’t capitalize,” he said.
Brianna Niemeic led K.V. with two hits.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of my kids,” Flynn said. “They fought to the end and had a great season.”
Savannah Kinsella had two double and three RBIs to pace the Niners (19-8), who broke the game open with a five-run third.
“It took a few innings, but they made their adjustments,” Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon said. “They had a sense of urgency which I told them this postseason is about — defense and sense of urgency at the plate.”