WOODSTOCK – On May 13, Marian Central softball starting catcher Hannah O’Hagan slid into third base in a game against Wheaton Academy and broke several metacarpals in her right hand. She had four pins inserted this past week in an injury that ended her season.
With O’Hagan out, the Hurricanes (7-13) started freshman McKenzie Lindquist at catcher Monday night in an 8-4 loss to Woodstock in the Class 3A Woodstock North Regional quarterfinal.
The Blue Streaks (4-18) took advantage of the Hurricanes playing without O’Hagan and decided to run as much as possible to test the young catcher. Woodstock coach Steve Beard understood the importance of the playoff game and gave his players the green light on the base paths.
“We knew their starting catcher was out after having surgery on her hand,” Beard said, “so we tried to take advantage of that.”
The Blue Streaks totaled 10 stolen bases throughout the game while only being caught once. The high success rate allowed Woodstock to have a runner in scoring position during every inning except for the seventh.
That helped the Blue Streaks score at least one run in each of the first six innings. The batters also were patient at the plate, coaxing Hurricanes pitcher Abby Maxeiner into walking 11 batters, especailly after she ran into some control issues later in the game when her pitch count began to climb.
“We were being very patient up there,” Beard said of his hitters. “We were really trying to make [Maxeiner] work, and our hitters really did their job.”
Fifth-seeded Woodstock will face top-seeded Wauconda on Tuesday in the semifinals. The Blue Streaks lost to Wauconda earlier in the season, 11-0, in five innings.
Maxeiner reached 100 pitches in the fifth inning and was letting her ball sail a bit as she tired, but Marian Central coach Erin Widmayer wanted to let her young pitcher work through it and see how she handles adversity.
Widmayer has only three upperclassmen on the team – two seniors and one junior – so she is trying to get the young players as much experience as they can, which she hope will pay off in the future.
Maxeiner pitched well despite the loss as she struck out six and only allowed six hits in seven innings. It was the walks that got her into trouble, however, and she allowed eight runs, six earned, as she battled the heat in long innings.
“It’s a learning experience,” Widmayer said. “We’ve been taking our licks every couple of games and our girls are handling it well when we really are a JV team playing against varsity teams.”
Woodstock has had its share of tough games, but pitcher Rachel Lohmeyer pitched a good game – six innings of three-run ball while only walking four – to advance.
“You just have to really focus and keep the ball low while attacking the hitters,” Lohmeyer said. “We haven’t thought about [Wauconda] too much, be we will start really soon.”