WHITING | Elaine Lustgarten is the most popular sister in the world right now.
The Senator catcher was responsible for driving in the lone run in a 1-0 classic win over Whiting, ousting the five-time defending sectional champ in an unexpected early exit in the second semifinal of the Class A Whiting Sectional.
Liz Lustgarten, the sister who's singing the praises of Elaine to anyone she comes across, went the distance, shutting down the two-time Class A state champs by allowing just three hits and one walk, avenging an 11-5 loss in last year's title game.
"I'm so thankful because we've been playing since freshman year and have never beaten them," Liz said. "My sister calmed me down when I was out there."
The run came in the sixth for the Senators (9-10) after first baseman Kacie Corley reached on an error, was sacrificed to second by center fielder Maddy Johnson, and then Elaine smacked a double over the extended reach of Whiting center fielder Jasmine Bejar.
"She used a different bat," Liz proclaimed. "She used my bat because we call hers 'the dead bat'."
Whiting (19-7) had an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh after Ashley Pokraka walked and Emelie Lovasko singled. But Liz retired the last three, which included a dramatic play at the plate when Elaine tagged out Whiting pinch runner Citlali Lopez.
"This team is young, excited, and aggressive, so it's pretty easy to coach them," Senator coach Jack Corley said. "We're gonna be around for a while."
In the first semifinal, Cherokee senior Victoria DeMan belted two home runs and scored two runs, both in key moments, but it wasn't enough as Kouts went on to win 4-3.
The game didn't end without a little drama because in the Morgan half of the seventh, the Cherokees (6-16) had runners on first and second when Sarah Michalec stroked a single to center.
But it was Kouts center fielder Kelsey Blood who had the last laugh, as she alertly scooped up the ball and threw a missile to catcher Elena Rosenbaum, who tagged DeMan of all people out to end the game.
"Kelsey came up with a nice throw," Kouts coach Tim McNeil said. "She read the ball well off the bat, made a nice throw, and Elena took the bounce and put a good tag on."
Kouts' (12-10) main damage occurred in a three-run third thanks to a pair of RBI singles courtesy of Easten McNeill and Breanna Seber.
After Morgan tied it at 3 in the fifth, Seber was at it again, but this time on the base paths, as she scored the go-ahead run after a single off the bat of Alyse Rosenbaum.
"Our girls fought hard and gave it everything they had," Morgan Twp. coach Larry Babcock said.