When the Hawks found themselves facing a 12-3 deficit going into the third inning of their regional title game versus Trinity early last week, they collectively thought back to a regular-season matchup with St. Viator in mid-April.
Maine South fell behind by a double-digit margin in that matchup, but fought back to win, 17-12.
Julia Bork entered the game in relief and limited fourth-seeded Trinity to one run the rest of the way. The Hawks put five additional runs on the board, but fell short in their comeback bid and were eliminated by the Blazers, 13-8.
“This season has been tremendous,” said Maine South coach Emmy Paiser of her fifth-seeded Hawks, who finished the year 20-11. “It has probably been one of the closest group of kids out there. There aren’t too many teams that will fight back. This group as a whole said, ‘This is who we are.’
“The game is about softball right now, but these girls have learned that they’re not going to give up in life. This is who they are: they’re fighters.”
The Hawks led 3-2 before the proverbial roof caved in on them in the second inning. The Blazers sent 13 batters to the plate and banged out 10 hits during the inning.
“We knew that they were good hitters and they definitely strung a whole bunch of them together,” Paiser said. “They were the No. 4 seed and we were the five seed and we knew it was going to be a battle coming in.”
Gabby Lazzara went 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Hawks offensively. Sabrina Argaez doubled and singled, while Olivia Frink, Kerry Foley and Bork each had multiple-hit games.
The Hawks have a solid core of players returning for the 2016 campaign, including Bork, Argaez, Frink, Lazarra, Liz Schmidt, Toni Tortorella, Mary Depkon and Maddie Rog. However, graduation is taking key individuals, including four-year starting outfielder Courtney Richardson, two-sport star Nina Anderson (the girls basketball team MVP), leadoff hitter Emily Suwanski—who hit nearly .500 this season—Liz Skoronski and catcher Kerry Foley (.364, 18 RBI), whom Paiser said was the team’s unsung hero.
“They all will (be missed),” Paiser said. “Kerry, I’m thinking about trying to get her to walk on at Grand Valley because she’s become one heckuva ballplayer.
“These girls here have put in the effort. Just to see them go and see their parents go, it’s just awful but I’ve said to these girls ever since I took over this program: ‘Once a Hawk, always a Hawk.’ ”
Anderson will be playing basketball at Illinois Wesleyan University.
“I’m hoping she might think about some other things, too,” said Paiser, hinting that she would like to see Anderson play softball at IWU as well.
Richardson, who hit .448 this season with 32 RBI, had verbally committed to play softball at the University of Illinois, but withdrew that last summer and verbally committed to Michigan.
“Overall I just felt like it was a better fit,” Richardson said.
The Hawks’ center fielder said leaving Maine South is bittersweet.
“Definitely,” she said, “but we’ve made some great memories and I’ll bring those with me. It was a great experience playing high school ball and I made some good friends. I look forward to the future and wish the Hawks next year and for following years all the best.”
•Niles West, the No. 9 seed at its own sectional, clashed with top-seeded York in the St. Ignatius regional title game on June 1. Hope Cherian slammed a solo homer in the top of the sixth, but York had built up a 6-0 lead by that point and went on to defeat the Wolves, 6-1.
Valerie Sherman doubled for Niles West (14-18). Maya Caballero pitched a complete game in the loss. York ended up getting ousted by Oak Park-River Forest in the sectional championship game.
•Resurrection, seeded 10th in the Grayslake Central Class 3A sectional, took No. 2-seeded Antioch down to the wire in the Antioch regional championship game held June 1. Antioch, however, came away with a 3-2 win, thanks to a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
Antioch scored two runs in the second, but the Bandits answered with two in the fourth to tie it.
Yenessa Meneses pitched a complete game for Resurrection, throwing a five-hitter and not allowing an earned run.