CARY – Sam McLean had been close before and wasn’t convinced the contact she made with a high fastball had a chance at getting the job done.
But when a gust of wind came up “just in time” and got a hold of the Crystal Lake South junior shortstop’s fly ball to dead centerfield Monday afternoon, McLean’s perspective quickly changed. Just like that, so did the Gators’ four-year losing streak against rival Cary-Grove.
McLean’s two-run home run with two outs in the fifth inning erased a one-run deficit before Hailee Massie took care of the rest from the circle, giving South a 2-1 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win.
The victory marked the Gators’ first over the Trojans since 2009.
“It feels really good to be able to beat them,” McLean said. “We haven’t beat them in so long. So it was good to get out there, get after it and just have everyone be so focused.”
That started with Massie.
Massie, who suffered a 2-1 loss to the Trojans on Saturday, allowed only two hits – one of which came in the first inning when C-G (13-2, 4-1 FVC Valley) loaded the bases with one out. But Massie struck out the next two hitters she faced, escaping unscathed.
“Hailee pitched lights out today,” South coach Scott Busam said.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the third on Jamie Deering’s RBI single. The lead held up behind C-G pitcher Lauren Stanley, who struck out 10 – including two that came just before McLean delivered her game-winning home run in the fifth.
Stanley put together her second solid outing after striking out 11 Saturday against South.
“There was just one mistake pitch and they capitalized on it,” C-G coach Tammy Olson said.
South (10-4, 2-3 Valley) threatened to add to its lead in the sixth and loaded the bases before Stanley pitched out of the jam with an inning-ending flyout. But the Trojans couldn’t come up with the timely hit as Massie retired the final six batters she faced to preserve the win.
And after coming so close Saturday, South players celebrated the end of their long drought against the Trojans. The win gave Busam reason to breathe a bit easier after struggling early in the season to get things to come together.
“Until we learn to hit a little bit better, these are the types of games we’re going to be in,” he said. “I think we can win them. It’s a good feeling. It’s a huge win for our team.”