Winkelman launches St. Francis toward victory
Two big swings by Shelby Winkelman in just two innings delivered the same result, but with drastically different style points.
In Monday's game against visiting Yorkville (14-13), Winkelman hit a high, towering shot to center field that just did clear the center field wall in the first inning for a quick 2-run lead for St. Francis. She then added a solo shot in the second inning that led the way to a 5-1 Spartans victory.
"The first one I wasn't sure that was going to go over, but the second one I didn't even look at first. As soon as I heard it that was gone," said Spartans coach Ralph Remus. "I did see the fans in the stands look up so I knew that was a good sign."
Winkelman, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief to secure the victory for Carlee Clark, also was not sure her first-inning swing off Foxes starter Katie Marker would clear the fence. Her second-inning shot, however, came off a pitch in her sweet spot and she knew she got it all. The ball soared over the bleachers and interrupted a baseball game on the adjacent diamond.
"The first one I thought I got too under it and it was high," she said. "I thought it was going to go straight up, but it went out. The second one was by far my favorite pitch. It was inside and low and I just took it."
St. Francis scored 4 runs in the first inning on 6 hits and then Winkelman's second home run of the game made the score 5-0. That was more than enough support for Clark, who allowed just 1 unearned run and 3 hits in five innings while improving to 11-1 this spring.
"I felt good. I felt my stuff was working and my changeup was good," said Clark, who was touched for a single run in the third when Yorkville scored without the benefit of a hit. "My main goal was to get ahead in the count and then just throw change-ups to throw them off."
Spartans left fielder Megan Abbott made a sparkling sliding grab in the gap in the fourth inning to rob the Foxes Ally Martin. It's solid defense like that that has the team confident heading into the playoffs, and also looking primed to set a school record for wins in a season.
"We've been making all the plays defensively," said Remus, whose 27-4 squad is closing in on the single-season school record of 29 wins. "Defensively, we've been really strong lately, and with the state tournament coming up that will be really big for us."
Clark, who singled and scored in the big first inning on a basehit by Kristina Sherwin, is ready to do some damage in the playoffs.
"We're a young team, but I think we have the potential to go real far," she said.