ROSEMONT – Downers Grove South’s softball team wouldn’t have it any other way.
The team that scratched, clawed and battled to three upset victories (at least in terms of seeding) in the playoffs battled Monday against St. Charles East.
The only difference was the Mustangs couldn’t pull out the win this time, falling, 6-3, to the Saints in a Class 4A supersectional game at The Ballpark in Rosemont, home of the Chicago Bandits.
“Everybody just really wanted to win today,” South freshman pitcher Caroline Hedgcock said. “Everybody played their hearts out, and we left everything out on the field.”
Down 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Mustangs (22-11-1) didn’t go quietly. Melissa Orton led off with a walk and went to third when Jess Andree doubled behind her. Orton scored on Caitlyn Daly’s groundout, and Andree came across on Caroline Hedgcock’s groundout as South halved the deficit to 4-2.
Even when East added two more runs in the top of the seventh, South made things interesting. Kaley Smith scored on an error, and the Mustangs brought the tying run to the plate with two outs.
In the end, however, the Mustangs couldn’t overcome an error that led to four unearned East (30-7) runs in the third or leaving runners stranded at third base on four separate occasions. When they were looking for the key hit, they just couldn’t touch East pitcher Haley Beno.
“We thought we were going to get on her, but we never strung it together like we should have,” junior Jess Andree said. “It just didn’t work the way we wanted it to.”
South also had a runner, who would have been safe at third, get tagged out after sliding past the bag in the third, and a run kept off the board when an overthrow from the East outfield hit the home plate umpire standing in foul territory and bounced back toward home plate.
“There were a couple opportunities we had that we squandered, but this team always fights back,” South coach Ron Havelka said. “They never quit. They didn’t quit against Naperville Central. Downers North we were down to our last four outs with [Elaine] Heflin on the mound, and we pulled that one out. I’m real proud of them. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”