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Softball: Oak Lawn turns back Morton

Updated: July 1, 2014 6:33AM



She didn’t beat herself up over it, but Oak Lawn’s Ashley Labuda was determined to make up for a first-inning error at some point during Thursday’s Class 4A Mother McAuley Regional semifinal against Morton.

As it turned out, she picked two of the best spots possible in Oak Lawn’s 5-3 victory.

Labuda’s two-run double in the bottom of the sixth erased a 3-2 deficit. Then she made the defensive play of the day, spearing a two-out line drive down the third-base line for the final out.

“I thought I had to get my team going back after I messed up,” Labuda said. “I knew I had to hit for the team. On that line drive, I had to check to see if I had (the ball).”

She did, robbing Morton pinch-hitter Kassie Munoz and stranding two baserunners who likely would have scored. The play sealed for the Spartans (16-17) a date in Saturday’s regional title game against Mother McAuley.

Morton closed at 8-23.

Labuda’s error didn’t end up hurting Oak Lawn, because Mia Loya was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation. When Jamie Alberts reached on an error, Reily McTeague singled and Marisa Loya drove a double to the fence, it was 2-0 Oak Lawn in the bottom of the first.

The Spartans had opportunities to score in each of the second through fifth, but either ran themselves out of scoring chances or stranded baserunners against pitcher Alyssa LaCour.

Morton scored in the fourth when Montoya blasted a home run off the top of the scoreboard in left field, and went in front with a two-spot in the fifth on singles by Lupe Heredia and Liz Heredia and a sacrifice fly by Montoya.

The first huge defensive play by Oak Lawn came with two on and two outs in the sixth when Susan Ghuneim’s rocket grounder ticketed for center field was flagged down by second baseman Kacie Heeter and thrown perfectly to first for the out.

“I was running to it and it just kind of came to my glove,” Heeter said. “I felt I had the strength enough to turn and get the ball to first. There was so much energy in the field I felt like I was a wall and was able to get anything that was by me.”

Labuda’s sixth-inning double followed a leadoff walk by Mia Loya and a base hit by Hayden Landingham. LaCour got the next two batters, but Kaleigh Hayes reached her for an RBI single to give the Spartans a two-run lead.

Morton’s valiant comeback effort in the seventh saw back-to-back hits by Liz Heredia and Montoya. With two outs, Munoz couldn’t have hit a ball harder, only to be denied by Labuda.

“That’s the game of softball,” Morton coach Marcella Wilus said. “My girls gave their hearts and their souls to the game, and that’s all I can ask for. I’m proud of them for fighting to the end.”



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