WHEATFIELD | Diane Cavinder gingerly walked to the softball diamond at Kankakee Valley on Wednesday before the Times No. 8 Kougars took on No. 4 Griffith.
Her steps were slower, but her smile was as bright as ever. Then, tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke.
"I had to be here for my girls," Cavinder said.
The mother of senior Morgan Cavinder recently had surgery for pancreatic cancer. Mrs. Cavinder got about 100 hugs before the Northwest Crossroads Conference showdown.
She got about 100 high fives after her daughter singled and scored the game-winning run in K.V.'s 2-1 win.
"I was thinking about her the whole game," Morgan said. "She's been through a lot. But she's come out of her surgery with the best possible prognosis. It meant a lot to all the girls that she was here.
"It meant a lot to me. I'm so glad I was able to score the winning run for her."
All the Kougars (11-5, 5-5) had a dark ribbon, the pancreatic cancer sign of support, painted on their arms to honor Mrs. Cavinder. And it worked as K.V. snapped a four-game conference losing streak.
"They had some fielding errors that we were able to take advantage of," K.V. coach Brian Flynn said.
In the third inning, the Kougars' Brianna Niemiec walked and moved to third on a throwing error. She was singled in by Lauren Stokes. The run was unearned.
In the bottom of the sixth, Cavinder led off with a sharp single to right and she moved to second on a throwing error. The K.V. catcher eventually scored on another throwing error by the Panthers (8-5, 6-3).
That run, too, was unearned.
"In a game like this between two good teams it usually comes down to who makes the mistakes and who doesn't," said Griffith assistant Kevin Brackett, who was filling in for head coach Don Bence, who is on a cruise.
"That's what happened here."
Griffith scored its run in the fifth when Sammi Adams coaxed a walk, Alyssa Gebo was hit by a pitch and Lauren Maynard singled Adams home.
The Panthers had runners on second and third with no outs in third, but K.V. ace Taurie Piatt was able to get out of the jam. Piatt (8-3) struck out 14.
"I'm going to blame our losing streak on my mom," Cavinder said with a smile. "Now that she's back, we won."