EAST PEORIA – Madison Collins chose to focus on what mattered.
Yes, York came up short twice in East Peoria.
But just getting to the state softball tournament was a an achievement itself for Collins and the rest of the Dukes.
"We're really proud of the way we played," said Collins, a senior. "We were one of the top four teams in the state so just getting down here so getting down here was a huge accomplishment in itself. This was our goal since the beginning of the season and even though it didn't turn out exactly as we wanted, we can hold our heads high since we know that not many teams have the honor of coming down here."
York, in its first state trip since 2013, matched that team's fourth-place finish in Class 4A.
The Dukes (28-14-1), who lost to eventual state champion Rock Island in the semifinals, dropped a 2-0 decision to Palatine in the third-place game.
After getting one run on three hits against the eventual champion Rocks in the semifinals, the Dukes were unable to score and collected just two hits against the Pirates (30-6). It was only the second time in their last 30 games that York failed to score in a game.
Despite the 0-2 showing, York coach Elizabeth Munn is proud of her team's accomplishments this year.
"All of the teams are here for a reason," Munn said. "I told the girls early on in the season that they had something special and I believed that they were capable of making it down here if they played to their fullest ability, and they did. It's just a great group of kids. They gave them their best effort. These girls play their hearts out and work so hard for you."
The Pirates, who only had four hits and failed to score in their semifinal loss to Plainfield North, didn't fare a whole lot better against Dukes freshman pitcher Lauren Derkowski. Derkowski, a Michigan recruit, limited them to four hits and one earned run while striking out six. But Palatine's Sarah Grossman was on her game, throwing a two-hitter while striking out six.
Palatine scored the eventual winning run in the first inning when Emily Parrott drew a two-out walk, stole second base and scored on a single by Amanda Stanczuk. The Pirates added an insurance run in the sixth when Rhiann Dick singled and came home on a two-out error.
The Dukes received their only hits from Katherine Karnatz, who went 2-for-2. She advanced to third base in the first but was left stranded there while senior Jane Moran reached third in the final inning and also remained there.
"To be top four in the state was a great accomplishment itself," said senior Kyra Kroll, who will play collegiately at Western Illinois. "Just making it here was a big confidence boost for us since it's only the third time that we've come down here. A lot of us did very well this. Lauren did did a great job pitching and we had a lot of big hitters who did a good job. I definitely think that this team can do very well next season since they have a lot of talent that will be returning."
One of the team's best qualities was just how close its players were.
"Just coming down here was a great experience, especially with these girls," senior Mia Tran said. "There are seven seniors on this team and this was like a one-time thing and we got all the way to state, which was a great experience. We were so close and a lot of us have known each other before high school by just playing together on travel teams. It was just fun being around them and was something that I'll never forget and I'll take with me since it's definitely impacted my life."