Sarah Esposito’s relief effort quite the consolation prize for Lincoln-Way East

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. — Saturday most definitely wasn’t Lincoln-Way East’s day, as hopes for a Class 4A third-place trophy pretty much unraveled from the start.

But there was a bright spot in the 6-0 loss to Glenbard North, or at least some consolation prize for senior pitcher Sarah Esposito, who came on in relief of staff ace Nikole Van Gennep in the fourth inning and shut the Panthers out the rest of the way.

Esposito struck out six, and while she was in almost constant trouble, made the right pitches at the right times to strand eight Glenbard North runners.

“I like being in those situations. I like being able to pitch out of a jam,” Esposito said. “I think I pitch good under pressure.

“It was a great way to end my senior year. It was a really awesome experience just being able to come down here with this team. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Road tripping

Sandburg coach Jim Fabianski got quite a surprise Friday after the Eagles defeated Lincoln-Way East. His two sons, Casey and Andy, came over to congratulate the team. The two had driven up from Destin, Florida for the game.

“We had no idea; my wife had no idea they were coming,” he said. “They were both working. Casey is actually giving lessons on building sand castles for a living, and Andy is going to McPherson College as an auto (designer) and found an internship at a trim shop in Destin.

“They’re living together in an extended-stay hotel for the summer. At the last minute they asked their bosses if they could come and they just drove up.”

Breaking through

Glenbard North’s Cece Dopart was pitching a perfect game against Lincoln-Way East when Jenny Van Geertry’s two-out rocket in the fourth inning was just inside the left-field line and went for a double.

It would be the final hit of her junior season by Van Geertry, who was East’s leading hitter with a .508 average.

“I knew we had no hits (at the time),” Van Geertry said. “I just told myself to stay in on it, and she threw me a screwball. I just took it to left field.”

Van Geertry is one of seven starters that return for the Griffins in 2015.

“It makes me real excited,” Van Geertry said. “We had a great year. Even fourth place is great out of how many teams there are (in the state).

“We did our best. We just have to come out on top next year, too. I’m really looking forward to taking first place next year.”

Moving on

Sandburg’s six graduating seniors will all be playing softball in college.

Karli McLaughlin and Emily Griskell are going to Quincy, Brooke Heimerl to Millikin, Sarah Herold to Denison, Cierra Adamus to Benedictine, and Caroline Kuzel to Saint Xavier.

“It shows that we’re dedicated and we love the game,” McLaughlin said. “We just want to keep going with it and going as far as we can with the game.

“This program (at Sandburg), you need to be dedicated to play with this team.”

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