Softball: Lyons Township shuts out Oak Park-River Forest
Lyons Township High School starting pitcher Ashley Koziol delivers a pitch during a game against Oak Park-River Forest High Saturday. | J.Geil~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:42AM
Lyons Township coach Dawn Schabacker tried to win with the short game, but it was Alyssa Koziol’s long ball that won the Class 4A regional final.
Koziol’s line drive to left field in the top of the sixth inning scored the game’s first runs as sixth-seeded LT beat fourth-seeded Oak Park-River Forest 3-0 Saturday at LT in Western Springs. LT bunted eight times in the game and left eight runners in scoring position until Koziol put LT ahead.
Koziol turned on Emma Baldwin’s first pitch with two outs when her liner tipped off the top of the glove of left fielder Caitlin Bell and rolled to the fence. Stephanie D’Anna and Kayla Morrissey scored from second and first base on the play. Moments earlier, Becky Ryckman became LT’s fourth leadoff hitter to reach base. She doubled, but was thrown out at home plate on a grounder to third baseman Dana Alcock.
“I saw it off the left fielder’s mitt,” Koziol said. “I thought she caught it at first. It was a hard hit ball. I kept running.”
Alyssa Koziol, a senior, helped make her sophomore sister, Ashley, the winning pitcher. Ashley (12-6) pitched a complete-game shutout while allowing six hits, two walks and she struck out two. LT (19-14-1) had plenty of chances to score and even loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning, but Baldwin worked out of the jam with a strikeout and line out to end the inning.
Baldwin gave up five hits and all three runs in 4 1/3 innings of relief while picking up the loss. She came into the game at the top of the third inning when senior starter Sarafina Andreolli allowed the first two batters in the inning to reach. OPRF coach Mel Kolbusz said he intended to use both pitchers in the game and even had his two pitchers warm up side-by-side before the game.
“I told both before the game, today it will take a team effort,” Kolbusz said. “Sarafina didn’t seem to throw as hard as what she usually does.”
LT beat OPRF (19-18) for the first time in three games this season. OPRF won 8-7 in 16 innings and 4-2 in nine innings last month. LT will play top-seeded Trinity in the Trinity Sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Trinity beat St. Ignatius 6-0 on Saturday.
LT won its 14th regional title, but first since 2008. Schabacker decided to return to her game plan from the first meeting against OPRF by going to the bunt, but LT had three bunts nullified Saturday when the home plate umpired ruled that the batters stepped on home plate.
“It was weird once it happened, then it happened again,” Schabacker said. “We had a meeting with Oak Park earlier in the week, and they said it happened three times in a game to them in the playoffs once.”
LT added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Ryckman’s RBI double to left center scored Ashley Koziol.
Schabacker noticed when LT had trouble scoring with so many of her players reaching third base.
“Something’s got to break there,” Schabacker said. “I kept seeing so many at third base, but we never got them in.”
Andreoli, Bell and Annie Ford played their final games for OPRF as starting seniors. Ford was a two-year starter at catcher and batted fourth this season.
“Annie Ford is an Ascension kid. We go to the same church together,” Kolbusz said. “I love her. She will go through a wall for you, if I wanted her to.”
“I think the girls are amazing,” said Ford, who went 1-for-3. “We had a lot of fun together. We had a tough game. Too bad it was on the losing side.”
OPRF’s best chance to score was in the sixth inning when Ford and Alcock hit back-to-back singles with one out. But Ford was thrown out at third base on a fielder’s choice and Valerie Cundari ended the inning by popping out to Ashley Koziol, who made a diving catch from the mound.