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Baranek: Sandburg hoping to be more than super

Karli McLaughlSandburg drives run against Marist for 4A Softball Reavis Sectional Championship. Saturday June 7th 2014 Burbank. | Gary Middendorf/for

Karli McLaughlin, of Sandburg, drives in a run against Marist for the 4A Softball Reavis Sectional Championship. Saturday, June 7th, 2014, in Burbank. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 10, 2014 6:36AM



Talking softball … and second chances.

A year is a long time to wait for supersectional redemption. What makes it even tougher is there is no guarantee you’ll get that far.

For Sandburg, this year’s postseason has been fraught with land mines, the two most dangerous coming in the Class 4A Reavis Sectional.

It took big defensive plays, big hits and clutch pitching for the Eagles to navigate past Mother McAuley and Marist.

Indeed, it took heroes from all directions.

On Saturday, there was Sarah Herold, pitching five-plus strong innings and striking out Marist hitting machine Brooke Wyderski two times.

There was Karli McLaughlin, whose two hits directly led to both runs in the 2-1 win.

There was left fielder Maddie Hanley and right fielder Kristen Zarate, both of whom made phenomenal catches to kill Marist scoring chances.

There was Emily Griskell, who had an RBI single but even more important came on in relief to get the final four outs.

All good postgame conversation pieces to be sure. But I couldn’t walk away without bringing up that subject.

Redemption.

One year ago, the Eagles roared into the Class 4A Rosemont Supersectional and were crushed by York 8-1. It was a stunning loss for a team that had won 14 of its previous 16 games.

McLaughlin kind of rolled her eyes a little when I suggested that last year’s trip to Rosemont wasn’t much fun.

“No, it wasn’t,” she said. “I think last year we could have brought maybe more energy, more confidence. This year we know we can do it.

“For the seniors, it’s a big deal. We want to leave on a good note, so we’re going to go in there with a good attitude and confidence.”

Monday’s supersectional opponent at North Central College is Naperville Central (27-7), which defeated Downers Grove South 4-0 in the Class 4A Oswego East Sectional title game.

Like Sandburg, the Redhawks had two pitchers, Keegan Hayes and Julie Kestas, combine for a gem. They had clutch hitting from Lisa Tassi, Hayes and Megan Nerger.

Also like Sandburg, Naperville Central has reason to look at Monday’s game as a chance at redemption.

The Redhawks were 31-1 last season when they went to Sandburg on May 17. Central led 5-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fifth when Sandburg went crazy with a six-spot that featured a three-run home run by McLaughlin and a lead-changing two-run blast by Cierra Adamus.

“I know that anybody who was on that team last year is going to be hungry to beat us,” Eagles coach Jim Fabianski said.

These are two teams that should be ready to play at 4:30 p.m. Which brings back one more memory about that Rosemont supersectional.

Sandburg’s game against York started more than an hour past the scheduled time, not because of weather conditions, but because a truck hit an overpass on I-294 and caused teams from the first game to arrive late.

Sandburg and York did a lot of sitting around.

“The time delay … that’s no excuse, really, but I think we were all pumped up for the game to start and then it got pushed back,” Herold said. “I don’t know. I think it just threw us off.

“Looking back to that York team, I still to this day think we should have beaten them. This year we’re not at the Bandits Stadium and we’re not playing York, but because of us six returners who were there last year, I think we know that we’re going to need to keep the energy up.

“We know what the results will be if we don’t.”



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