High School Softball: Marist tops Elk Grove to reach title game
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org June 8, 2012 4:02PM
Marist's Kaitlin Kenny (from left), Kristin Klutcharch and Katie Caulfield celebrate their win over Elk Grove. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:20AM
EAST PEORIA — Marist junior Maggie Gorman really liked the first pitch she received from Elk Grove pitcher Dani Goranson in the fifth inning of Friday’s Class 4A semifinal.
Everyone wearing Marist red loved where she hit it.
Gorman’s two-run home run was all the offense Marist needed in a 2-0 victory over Elk Grove that sent the RedHawks into Saturday’s title game.
Marist senior pitcher Kristin Klutcharch was perfect through 5⅓ innings and went on to throw a three-hit shutout. Behind her, third baseman Katie Caulfield led a RedHawks defense that was flawless and occasionally spectacular.
The beat goes on for a team that a month ago was struggling at .500.
“I still can’t believe we’re here. And then we won, too,” a smiling Gorman said. “I think we’re just coming together at the right time.
“Different people are stepping up. It’s good.”
Historical, too. The RedHawks (26-15) became the first Marist girls team to advance to a state title game.
“That’s what we talked about (Thursday) and that’s what we talked about (Friday),” Marist coach Denise Bromberek said, “that we made history for the Marist softball program, and now let’s make history for Marist’s girls athletics. They’re excited about it.”
They were definitely state-title caliber on Friday in every aspect of the game.
Offensively, the RedHawks figured to have a tough time against Goranson, who entered the game with 284 strikeouts in 198 innings. She allowed just a double by Kaitlin Kenny through four innings and whiffed five.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Kenny reached Goranson again, this time for a ground single through the right side. Gorman was next and wasted no time attacking the first pitch.
“She struck me out the first time so I was just looking to make contact,” Gorman said. “I liked the pitch. It was right there so I just went with it.
“Whenever I hit them (that far) they always go foul,” she said, laughing. “So I’m glad this one didn’t.”
Gorman’s blast over the left-field fence at EastSide Centre was her second home run of the season.
Klutcharch (17-11) did her part in the circle. The right-hander retired the first 16 batters she faced before the perfect game was broken up with one out in the sixth on a base hit by Elk Grove pinch-hitter Tori Liewergen.
One out later, Goranson hit an opposite-field rocket to left that fell just in front of the fence.
“I was looking back and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, please don’t go out,’ ” Klutcharch said.
It didn’t, and the ball was hustled into the infield fast enough that Liewergen had to be held at third. Klutcharch then retired Devan Parkison on a nice play by shortstop Brooke Wyderski.
“My defense was great,” Klutcharch said. “They save me from so much stuff. Without them we wouldn’t be here.”
The top defensive play occurred in the seventh inning when, with an Elk Grove runner on first, Klutcharch induced a game-ending 5-4-3 double play, Caulfield to Nicole Babrowski to Haly Richy.
It was Caulfield’s second gem. In the fifth, she made a diving stop on a hot shot by Megan Keegan and pegged her out at first.
“My hitting wasn’t on today so I had to make up for it on defense,” Caulfield said. “That last out, oh, my gosh, I was so excited. We always pride ourselves about being great defensively. Now our bats are waking up. It’s amazing.”