No. 2 Freeport blanks Burrell to earn share of Section 1-3A title
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 | 10:42 PM
Tori Radvan took a line drive off her right calf, then a pitch off her left knee, all within the span of five or so minutes.
“It was really the defense behind me,” said Radvan, who pronounced herself sore but otherwise OK after her double brush with the softball in the sixth inning. “Pitching, I felt so much more comfortable knowing that they were going to get every ball.”
The Yellowjackets (10-0, 8-0) posted their second consecutive shutout and third in four games and can finish no worse than a first-place tie in the section. The program's last section title came in 2000.
For all the notoriety Freeport's high-scoring offense gets — the team averages 11 runs — this time the defense and pitching stole she show.
“To hold that team down to no runs is just unbelievable,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “That's a good team.”
Radvan, who missed time earlier this season with a hamstring injury, yielded just a second-inning single to Burrell's Charlie Confer. The sophomore walked two and struck out two to blank the Bucs, who were averaging nearly nine runs before Tuesday.
“Today, I felt really comfortable,” Radvan said. “We talked before the game and said no matter what, we were going to have a good game.”
The Yellowjackets' defense — including Radvan herself in the circle — made the biggest plays to keep Burrell (8-4, 7-2) off the scoreboard.
The Bucs put a runner on third base with no outs in the fourth inning after a three-base error. After a shallow flyout to center brought the first out, Radvan fielded a grounder and threw home to get Cara Fiore trying to score. Ashleigh Schmidt made a sparkling defensive play to end the inning, diving to stop a Kelly Nitowski ground ball and getting a force at second.
“The same thing happened to us yesterday,” Burrell coach Brian Eshbaugh said. “We hit the ball hard, and it was right at the other team. The same thing happened today. Teams go through that, so another week or two and they'll be finding the green.”
Burrell again threatened in the sixth as Kayla Santucci got to third base with two outs. Brittany Dunn hit a sharp line drive back to the circle. The ball connected with Radvan's calf, but she collected herself — and the ball — and threw to first to end the threat.
“It hurts for a little bit, but then it gets better,” Radvan said.
Freeport, which rallied from a 6-0 seventh-inning deficit to beat Burrell in their first meeting, needed so such rally this time.
The Yellowjackets finished with just three hits but took advantage of five Burrell errors.
Schmidt led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk and eventually scored when Ally DeJidas reached on an error. DeJidas scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Another Burrell error helped lead to a pair of Freeport runs in the third. Claire Crytzer drove in a run with a single, and DeJidas scored on another wild pitch.
“You can't give a team like this extra outs,” Eshbaugh said. “They had five or six outs in a couple innings, and a good-hitting team like Freeport, you can't do that to them.”
Dunn, who took the hard-luck loss after allowing four runs — one earned — and striking out six, twice stranded the bases loaded to keep Freeport's offense in check.
But it wasn't enough to beat the Yellowjackets, not with its pitching and defense.
“This is a good group of girls,” Ross said. “Good continuity, good leadership. They give you everything they've got.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
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