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Bulletin: ICC blanks PHCC in doubleheader

May 13, 2012
PHCC sophomore Carly Schmidt, who was later named an all-American, swings during the Lady Patriots' season-ending loss to Illinois Central College.

PHCC sophomore Carly Schmidt, who was later named an all-American, swings during the Lady Patriots’ season-ending loss to Illinois Central College.

Lady Patriots fall in District P tournament

By DAVID REYNOLDS – Bulletin Sports Editor | Sunday, May 13, 2012

After Patrick Henry Community College’s Whitney Catterton grounded out to clinch Illinois Central College’s two-game sweep of the Patriots on Friday in the District P tournament, she and the rest of the PHCC softball team did their best to hide their disappointment.

The Patriots stoicly filed through postgame handshakes, avoided eye contact with their friends and family and jogged toward left field for a team meeting.

But even 10 minutes later, when the Patriots finally ambled back to the dugout to greet their fans for the last time of the season, their faces still said it all:

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

“We didn’t want to be done yet,” said Carly Schmidt, PHCC’s catcher and the Region X Player of the Year. “We can beat anyone. We thought we could do it.”

A week after winning their first-ever Region X title, the Patriots (34-21) were shut out 10-0 in Game 1 and 5-0 in Game 2 of the best-of-three series, allowing ICC (34-23) to capture the District P title and a berth in the NJCAA College World Series.

Rachel Hawks was the losing pitcher in both games, but she wasn’t the only reason the Cougars were able to pile up so many runs.

ICC’s speed and aggresiveness on the base path pressured PHCC’s defense into a flurry of errors, as six of the Cougars’ 10 runs in Game 1 were unearned.

“We haven’t seen anyone that’s been like that all year,” PHCC head coach Kathleen Brown said of ICC’s base-running. “That’s their style, and that’s how they generate runs — and we knew that — but those kinds of things are hard to practice for.”

PHCC did load the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but the Patriots were unable to push across any runs after Catterton was gunned down at home plate trying to tag up from third on a fly ball to right.

ICC only finished with two more hits than PHCC in the opener, but they all came at the right time.

Sara Rogers led the Cougars at the plate in the first game, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Also for ICC, Amber Haulk added two hits and scored two runs, and Dani Williams earned the win in the circle.

Schmitt and Catterton each smacked two singles for PHCC, but the rest of the Patriots’ bats were mostly quiet.

“We came out really tight in the first game. We were just trying to do too much and not making the plays we needed to make,” Brown said. “Once we got ourselves in a hole, it was really hard to get out.”

The Cougars jumped on the Patriots again early in Game 2, plating three runs in the first two innings to seize a 3-0 lead.

An RBI groundout and a two-out single pushed two runs across for ICC in the first inning, and a wild pitch from Hawks in the second with a runner of third gave Illinois Community College its third run of the game.

“We try to jump on a team early, and doing that both games really helped,” ICC coach Heather Doty said. “Having the confidence that we knew we could do our best, and definitely not being cocky or anything like that … being confident that if we do our jobs, good things will happen.”

But Hawks settled down from there, and the Cougars’ lead didn’t balloon in the middle innings like it did in Game 1, leaving PHCC hope for a late rally.

Still trailing 3-0 in the top of the fifth, the Patriots strung together their best scoring chance of the day when they loaded the bases with no outs and their 2-3-4 hitters on deck.

And even though No. 2 hitter Bridget Farmer struck out looking on a 3-2 count, PHCC was still feeling good about itself when Schmidt came to the plate.

Schmidt, who hit 14 home runs during the regular season, already had three hits in her five plate appearances on the day, and she had produced two sizzling line drives in two chances against ICC pitcher McKensie Vissering.

Schmidt made solid contact again, but her grounder up the middle bounced directly to Vissering. Vissering immediately threw home for the force out, and the catcher then whipped the ball to first to complete a double play — and end PHCC’s comeback attempt.

“Just couldn’t get (hits) at the right time,” Schmidt said. “Couldn’t really string any hits together.”

The Cougars tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the frame, and PHCC only managed one hit in its final two trips to the plate.

Vissering earned the win after throwing seven innings of scoreless ball and striking out seven.

The Patriots did register seven hits off the ICC starter, but they couldn’t capitalize with runners in scoring position.

“Pitch selection was a problem all day. We were hitting their pitches as opposed to waiting for ours,” Brown said. “We had a lot of runners on, but it seemed like we couldn’t catch a break all day today, and it’s like that sometimes.”

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