Lemont was eight outs away from erasing the memory of last year’s playoff loss to Glenbard South.
It took eight batters for those plans to go awry.
A fifth inning that started innocently snowballed into anything but. Eight straight Glenbard South batters reached base in a stunning seven-run outburst, and the two-time defending state champions went on to a 10-7 win in a Class 3A sectional semifinal in Glen Ellyn.
Lemont led 5-2 with one out in the fifth. By the time Glenbard South’s Tarah Valdez scored on a wild pitch, it was 9-5.
“That inning killed us,” Lemont shortstop Rylie Jay said. “It happened fast.”
Glenbard South (25-8), which will go for its seventh sectional title in eight years on Saturday against top seed Montini, is a program that seems to have nine lives come playoff time. Lemont knows that all too well.
Lemont led in last year’s sectional final 4-1, and then 5-4 going to the bottom of the seventh, before losing 6-5. Glenbard South won three of its last four playoff games last year in its final at bat – and that magic doesn’t appear to have worn off.
“We’re never out of anything. Until that last inning, you can’t count us out,” Raiders coach Julie Fonda said. “We know we have a bulls-eye on our back, but this is a different group of girls.”
With one out in the fifth, Glenbard South’s Payton Carli reached on a bunt single that appeared to be rolling foul.
Aimee Gerhardt made it hurt the next pitch, drilling a two-run homer to left. It drew the Raiders within 5-4, and busted the dam wide open.
Ashton Cattenhead drove in the tying run with her second of three rocket doubles, and Valdez doubled in two more for a 7-5 lead.
“A rally can start anywhere with this lineup,” Cattenhead said. “Once one person starts things, we literally don’t stop. I wouldn’t say our backs were against the wall. We knew we could come back.”
Glenbard South jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, but Lemont came right back with four in the third.
Jay’s booming two-run double tied it, and Anna Smagacz doubled in two more with two out.
Even after Glenbard South’s big fifth inning, Lemont still managed to bring the tying run to the plate in the seventh.
Smagacz singled in Jay to make it 10-7, putting two runners on with none out. But Glenbard South’s Taylor Carli bore down to retire the next three batters on grounders.
Lemont coach Christine Traina will graduate just three seniors off this group. Jay, committed to Western Illinois, will lead a large group coming back.
“That fifth inning was tough, it definitely was tough,” Traina said. “But I’m proud of these kids. They came out swinging the bats. This team, they don’t give up. They just keep fighting.”
Payton Carli, Ashley Cohen and Valdez each had two of the 15 hits for Glenbard South, which advances to play a Montini team that beat the Raiders 8-3 in April.