WAUCONDA — Marian Central sophomore center fielder Jenna Golembiewski was a spark plug full of momentum-changing plays during her team's 5-3 win over Grayslake Central at Wednesday's Class 3A Wauconda Sectional semifinal.
After teammate Maggie Finnegan led the game off with a triple off the bottom of the right-center field fence, Golembiewski gave the Hurricanes a quick 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly.
The Rams tied the game on Kennedy Stoffel's solo homer in the bottom of the first, and the score remained tied until Golembiewski struck again with one out in the top of the fifth.
That's when she blasted a two-run double that landed just inside the left-field foul line, making it 3-1 Hurricanes.
Marian quickly tacked on two more insurance runs in the inning, thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles from Faith Parchutz and cleanup hitter Amelia Fitzgerald.
"I like to stay humble and don't really think too much of my big plays," Golembiewski said. "I just move on to the next one, because I don't want to get caught up in the moment."
Move on was exactly what Golembiewski did. Only this time, her glove did the talking.
Trailing 5-1, the Rams (24-8-1) led off the bottom of the fifth with a single by Avery Nims. The next batter, Madeline Peterson, ripped a line-shot to right-center that was tailing away rapidly from Golembiewski.
Somehow, Golembiewski managed to track the ball down running full speed to her left, then fired a strike to first baseman Molly Finnegan to double-up Peterson, who thought the ball was going to fall.
"It's funny, because coach (Kurt Farnam) moved me the other way toward left-center before the ball was hit," Golembiewski said. "As soon as it came off the bat, I was like, 'I'm getting this ball.' "
The No. 3 seed Rams scored twice in the seventh thanks to a two-run homer off the bat of Peterson, but it wasn't enough to overcome the strong pitching performance of Marian senior right-hander Jamie Gatz.
Gatz allowed seven hits during her complete-game win, but only issued one walk while striking out 10. She pounded the upper part of the strike zone repeatedly, causing a large number of swings and misses under pitches.
"My catcher, (senior Kaeti Miller) called a great game today," Gatz said. "She saw my riseball was working, and took advantage of that."
"We really kind of click together as a battery," Miller added. "If Jamie misses a spot with a pitch, I'll call it again because I know she'll come right back and put it where I want it."
Marian (19-15-1) will face No. 4 Marengo (23-15) at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the sectional title. The Indians eliminated Marian from the playoffs last season on a walk-off infield hit.
"We're super excited," Golembiewski said. "It's always great competition, and a fun game when we play them."
STAR OF THE GAME
Jenna Golembiewski, Marian Central, so., CF
Golembiewski was 2 for 3 with a double, sacrifice fly, three RBIs, and a huge momentum-shifting defensive play in the fifth inning.
10: Strikeouts by Marian Central starting pitcher Jamie Gatz. Nine were swinging strikeouts, one was looking.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
The Hurricanes only struck out once in their first 24 plate appearances Wednesday, and won despite getting just one hit from their No. 5-9 hitters in their order.
Marian Central 5, Grayslake Central 3
Marian Central 100 040 0 – 5 11 1
Grayslake Central 100 000 2 – 3 7 0
WP: Gatz (7IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 10K). LP: Pribyl (4.1 IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 1K).
Top hitters–Marian Central: Golembiewski 2-3 (Double, 3 RBIs, Sac Fly), Finnegan 4-4 (Triple, 2 R), Parchutz 2-4 (Double, RBI), Fitzgerald 2-4 (Double, RBI), Sharp 1-4. Grayslake Central: Stoffel 2-3 (Solo HR), Peterson 1-3 (HR, 2 RBI).