ALGONQUIN – Monday’s Class 4A Cary-Grove Regional softball play-in game saw fifth-seeded Crystal Lake Central have an inning to forget on defense that sealed its fate.
The Tigers committed three fourth-inning errors that allowed two Jacobs runs to score, and the fourth-seeded Golden Eagles won, 3-1.
The game was called after six innings because of heavy rain and unplayable conditions. Jacobs (17-13) advances to Tuesday’s regional semifinal against top-seeded Barrington at 4:30 p.m. in Cary.
The game’s key at-bats came with the Tigers (15-14) leading, 1-0, in the fateful fourth inning. Emily Borg walked to lead off the inning, amd Kelsey Cummings hit a hard chopper to Monica Menas at third base. Menas tried to get Borg at second, but her throw went wide and both runners were safe. After a walk loaded the bases with nobody out, Central pitcher Megan Mahaffy struck out Danielle O’Toole and Katie Borchert to put Mahaffy within one out of getting out of the jam.
Taylor Belo followed with a chopper to Rachel Kautz at second. The ball bounced off Kautz’s body, and her throw to first went wide, allowing two runs to score. Borchert added an opposite-field home run in the sixth before the rains came just as the top of the seventh inning began. After a delay of more than an hour, the umpires and coaches surveyed the field before it was determined it was unplayable and the game was called.
“We got baserunners but couldn’t plate them early," Central coach Brian Strombom said. "I felt really good about our chances going up 1-0 because I thought Megan was doing a great job in the circle. We just had some trouble that one inning and it cost us some runs.”
The Tigers loaded the bases with no one out in the first inning but couldn’t score and left two runners on in the third inning after getting an RBI single from Shannon Ellman to take the early lead. Central also left two runners on in the fifth.
Jacobs will go into the regional semifinal with a lot of confidence, considering they beat Barrington earlier in the season. Golden Eagles coach Jeremy Bauer said his team will be loose going in their biggest game of the season.
“We are the (No.) 4 seed going in against the No. 1 seed,” Bauer said. "We’re just going to play, have a lot of fun and play free because the pressure is all on [Barrington] and just be willing to ride the wave of emotion."