The Lane Tech Indians’ softball team had an explosive offense in their round two matchup against the Clemente Wildcats Wednesday.
The Indians (22-11, 12-0) routed the Wildcats 14-4 in five innings at Thillens stadium in the city quarterfinals; and advanced to play CICS Longwood in the semifinal game at UIC this Friday. The Indians offense was dominant in the 5th inning; putting an 8 spot on the Wildcats to take the 10-run lead to end the game.
Four of Lane’s first five batters of the 5th inning were walked; as a walk to right-fielder Casey Cusano scored first baseman Jessica Szyska with the bases loaded to get the scoring going for the Indians. The Indians were patient at the plate throughout the game; knowing exactly what they wanted to hit and waiting for the opportunity.
“The pitches were either right down the middle or they were high,” said Lane catcher Emily Espinosa. “I think our girls were just being really patient and waiting to swing until they saw those pitches down the middle so they could hit them.”
With the bases still loaded in the 5th, third baseman Maddie Maldonado knocked in left-fielder Savanna Dickhut from third with a bunt-single. Espinosa followed with a bases clearing triple, and would score the 7th run of the inning after a single from shortstop Hailey Pieruccini. Pieruccini stole second and reached third on a wild pitch, and would get knocked in on a ground-out by Szyska to cap off the scoring for the Indians.
“(Clemente’s pitcher) was throwing them down the middle,” Espinosa said. “Whatever was there, I was just going to hit, especially when I had two strikes on me. I just didn’t want to strike out, especially in that big situation.”
Espinosa finished 3-for-3 with 5 RBI on the day, and was a home run shy of the cycle. Pitcher Kaleigh Ambrose was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI while Cusano was 2-for-2 with 2 RBI.
Head coach George Stavrakas was pleased with the offensive performance, but knows that the defense will need to tighten up as they advance further in the playoffs.
“We bunted the ball well today,” he said. “I think that was the difference. Defensively I thought we were a little flat; after (Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Leyden at Bandit’s Stadium) and coming back to CPS play it was hard to get them up, but we did what we had to do to win. It’s all about winning at this point.”