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Scary scene for Cary-Grove in win

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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Cary-Grove's Lauren Stanley pitches Monday against Prairie Ridge in Cary. Stanley relieved starter Lindsay Efflandt, who left the game after being struck in the side of the face by a line drive to end the fourth inning. Cary-Grove still won, 3-1.

CARY – Cary-Grove pitcher Lindsay Efflandt was cruising through the Prairie Ridge lineup.

The senior hadn’t allowed a hit or a run through 32/3 innings and had nine strikeouts when she got the toughest out of her career.

Efflandt was hit in the face by a batted ball in the top of the fourth inning, and the play marred any happiness the Trojans may have felt after their 3-1 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory that left them alone in first place.

Efflandt was taken to a hospital for X-rays and examination and has broken bones in her face, Trojans coach Tammy Olson said late Monday.

“We won’t know [about the extent] for a couple of days until the swelling goes down,” Olson said. “She will go back and they’ll look at her again. All we know is she’s hurting.”

Olson figures C-G will have to play without Efflandt at least a few games.

“I have no idea [how many she will miss],” Olson said.

The Wolves’ Kirsten Stevens smacked the first pitch she saw, an outside fastball, directly back at Efflandt with two outs in the top of the fourth. The ball hit Efflandt squarely on the left side of her face and caromed all the way to first base, where Marissa Richter scooped it up and stepped on the base for the final out. But her teammate, Efflandt, was lying face down on the third-base side of the pitching rubber.

“It was not a great day for us,” Olson said.

Efflandt stayed on the infield dirt for about five minutes before being helped off the field.

In the dugout after the win, assistant coach Mark Olson read a text from Efflandt to the team that read, “I’ll be OK. I love you guys.”

When Efflandt was being tended to by athletic trainers and coaches after she was hit, she asked if Stevens, her close friend and Illinois Chill travel team teammate, would come to her side.

“We talked a little bit and we both knew that it’s a part of the game,” Stevens said of the chat, “and we’re all OK about the situation, and I’m sure she’ll pull through.”

Stevens walked out to the mound to pitch the bottom half of the fourth, admittedly a bit shaken, and Mark Olson asked Wolves coach Mike Buck if it would be OK if he talked to her.

“It’s gotta be tough to go ahead and pitch after something like that, especially for Kirsten,” Mark Olson said, “and I told her, ‘Lindsay will be all right. Compete your head off and give it your best. We’ll be fine on our end’ and she smiled. 

“Coming from the opposition, I thought it might help to settle down the nerves a bit because it is just a game.”

Stevens finished the game but was tagged with the loss. She gave up six hits and three runs, although only one was earned, and struck out eight.

Lauren Stanley pitched the final three innings for C-G (9-0 overall, 3-0 FVC Valley) and held the Wolves (8-2, 2-1 FVC Valley) to one run while striking out two.

“I was shaken up from what happened and I knew that I had to pull through for my teammates and Lindsay,” Stanley said. “They had my back with good defense and emotional support.”

“All of the girls held their composure well, especially in a situation like that,” Buck said. “That’s scary. I don’t care who you are, that’s a scary situation.”

• Joe Stevenson contributed to this report.

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