CEDAR LAKE | Two traditionally powerful softball programs went to the field on Wednesday in Cedar Lake, Lowell and Hanover Central, in what some have called "The South County World Series."
Both programs have played in the state finals in the last eight years.
"They're like our next-door neighbors," Hanover senior catcher Katie Klopp said.
"They're a big school," Wildcats sophomore pitcher Ashley Yoways said.
"Yeah, but we're catching up," Klopp added.
Despite being just two games over .500, Lowell coach Pete Iussig was feeling good about his young team. Well, at least until the seven innings against Hanover. The 'Cats won 5-0.
"This was really discouraging," Iussig said. "Even our losses before were fun. This wasn't."
Hanover (7-4) won its fourth straight game with great at-bats, very good defense and solid pitching.
In the second inning, Yoways got a RBI on a fielder's choice. Melissa Balkema added an RBI single and Klopp doubled home two. It was 4-0 before the fans had a chance to get settled.
Klopp would single home another run in the fourth to finish off the scoring.
"We didn't start this way," Hanover coach Larry McMillen said. "We were getting five, six and seven called third strikes early. We've talked to the girls about being aggressive when they're hitting and we're starting to come around."
Yoways struck out 10 Red Devils (7-6). Lowell only got four hits. The only big blast came from the bat of Ali Charters, who doubled in the fourth inning. Lowell has gone 14 straight innings without scoring a run.
"You've got to give (Yoways) credit," Iussig said. "She made us look worse than we have all year."
Yoways scored twice and was 1-for-3 hitting. Balkema was 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI. Klopp was 2-for-3 with three RBI. And Alyssa Howard went 1-for-2 with one run scored.
"We really came together with our hitting, we can make things happen anywhere in our order," Klopp said.
"This all started at (Kankakee Valley)," Yoways said of Hanover's 14-0 win. "Our hitting has just soared after that game."