Tara Zufan’s grand slam lifts Batavia over Metea Valley

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After spending seven innings wearing catcher’s gear in 90-degree heat, Batavia’s Tara Zufan knew precisely where she was headed.

“I’m going to DQ,” Zufan said, referring to Dairy Queen. “It’s hot out here.”

Zufan deserved a cold treat after her grand slam punctuated a seven-run fifth inning that essentially decided Monday’s 10-4 victory over Metea Valley in a Class 4A Batavia Regional quarterfinal.

Batavia (10-19), the 16th seed, advanced to Tuesday’s regional semifinal game against top-seeded Benet.

With 17th-seeded Metea Valley (8-22) leading 1-0 through five at-bats, the Bulldogs finally solved pitcher Jenna Hall in their half of the fifth. Jorie Nichol led off with a single, Ryanne Rokos double, and Toni Galas singled in Nichol to tie the game.

Rachael Lovestrand singled Rokos home to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead, and a few walks later, Zufan turned on an inside pitch and sent it over the left-field fence for her first career home run.

“I just saw it coming inside and I knew I grounded out in my last two at-bats,” Zufan said. “I hit it in the sweet spot and it went over. I thought I popped it up and went sprinting around the bases until I saw that it went over.”

Batavia’s seven-run outburst stunned the Mustangs.

“(Hall) did a nice job keeping us off-balance but after seeing her a couple of times, we were able to make that adjustment,” Batavia coach Lupe Castellanos said. “We started to hit the ball up the middle and did a better job the second time through our order. And that grand slam blew the game open.”

Batavia scored three more runs in the sixth to take a 10-1 lead, and Metea managed three runs in its final at-bats of the season, including a sacrifice fly from Megan Arcivar that scored a run and a two-run single from Monica Jauch.

Lovestrand (5-8) went the distance under difficult conditions for both teams.

“She hit her spots and did a good job battling through, it being so hot and all,” Castellanos said.

“We played solid defense all game long. Our shortstop (Galas) made a lot of nice plays, running a couple down in short left field. I told the girls to leave it all on the field and that’s what they did.”

Metea Valley took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when a sacrifice fly from Alise Perna scored Lisa Harrington. That was it for the Mustangs until their three-run seventh.

Metea Valley bids farewell to five seniors, including its all-time strikeout leader in Hall and fellow four-year varsity player Perna.

“They have done a great job for us all four years on varsity,” Metea Valley coach Kristen Kalivas said. “We wish them luck. They’ve done a great job.”

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