. Francis rallies to defeat Glenbard South in extra innings
Stay calm and see the pitch.
Kelly Griffin's simple self-help allowed her to cap St. Francis' extra-inning, come-from-behind 8-7 win over Glenbard South on Tuesday in a Class 3A St. Francis sectional semifinal in Wheaton.
Following Josie Smith's line double to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, Griffin drove the ball deep to right field to score Smith and send the No. 1-seeded Spartans into Saturday's 11 a.m. sectional championship.
"When I panic or get mad I usually don't hit very well or I don't come through," said Griffin, a freshman third baseman wearing sparkly eye black for "extra fun."
"So I was just trying to keep myself calm and tell myself, 'I could do this.' And then I saw the pitch and I just swung at it and I came through."
St. Francis (33-4) will play the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Fenwick and defending Class 3A champion Montini. No. 5 seed Glenbard South (19-15) must be content with a 13th straight regional title.
"I'm probably more proud of this group than I've ever been because they've come so far," said Raiders coach Julie Fonda. "We started off the season 1-7 and for us to get here and be playing our best ball now, that's huge."
Throwing ace Ella Little (18-8), Glenbard South led 6-2 before St. Francis batted in the bottom of the sixth inning. Raiders center fielder Elizabeth Cizek cracked a 3-run home run in the second. In the fifth Jocelyn Leerschen ripped a single just by St. Francis pitcher Shelby Winkelman to score Mady Carli and Bailee Flanagan.
"I was surprised we got down as far as we did," said St. Francis coach Ralph Remus. "I didn't expect that, and I can't say we've played from a deficit much this year, so I'm very proud of the girls for not putting their heads down when that happened."
St. Francis manufactured 2 runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Glenbard South went up 7-4 in the top of the seventh on Leerschen's RBI double.
St. Francis was down to its last out before rallying. Rebecca Imbrogno and Kristna Sherwin notched two-out singles, and on a 1-2 count Winkelman (16-3) pulled a 1-2 pitch low and hard over the left-field fence to tie the score 7-7.
"It felt (good) right off the bat," Winkelman said. "I was like, Oh my God. OK, we're back in this. I know my team is behind my back and I was like, guys we're not done, we're going to keep going, we've got this."
Glenbard South's Allie Sims singled to start the eighth inning, but Winkelman retired the next three hitters to set the stage.
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