ROSEMONT – No one thought this team would be here.
York softball has just two seniors on the roster and had to replace a Division I pitcher, Columbia’s Tessa Kroll. That spelled rebuilding year on paper.
Now the Dukes are headed to state for the first time since 2003.
York made big plays in every facet of the game Monday to beat Sandburg, 8-1, in the Rosemont supersectional at the Chicago Bandits’ Rosemont Stadium. Now the Dukes will play Minooka in a Class 4A state semifinal at 5:30 p.m. today at East Peoria’s EastSide Centre.
“This one came out of left field and it was just great,” York coach Drew McGuire said. “I can’t say enough about these girls. There’s no quit in them.”
Sophomore pitcher Brooke Bandy pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts and allowed just the one run, which came in the first inning.
“It’s such a good feeling,” Bandy said. “To know that this is such a young team and we can do this maybe the next two years is great.”
Bandy’s loose attitude has been key in York’s run.
“She just was cool and calm and collected,” McGuire said. “She was smiling out there. It was bottom of the seventh, and she’s smiling.”
The offense also had turned it on in the playoffs. York (23-14) has scored 34 runs in its five playoff games and seven different Dukes either scored a run or had an RBI in the supersectional.
“We started hitting and once one person starts hitting we all start hitting,” said sophomore Isabella Jaeger, who homered in the first inning.
York was 18-14 in the regular season and tied for second in the West Suburban Silver, nothing that made them stand out as a state contender. While the Dukes earned a No. 2 seed in the Resurrection sectional, they were underdogs against the Eagles and against fellow powerhouse program Trinity in the sectional final.
The Dukes got past Trinity in Saturday’s sectional final after being down to their last strike. York trailed by two runs in the seventh before Gracie Sullivan hit a base-clearing triple with two outs in the 7-5 win. Sullivan had another three-RBI triple in the supersectional.
“In the beginning of the season, it would take us so long to build up, but we just never gave up,” Sullivan said.
York will make its first appearance in a state semifinal. The Dukes’ only other trip to state came in 2003 when they lost in a quarterfinal when there were only two classes.