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State Softball: Lincoln-Way East posts best finish since winning state title in 2002

Lincoln-Way East relief pitcher Sarah Esposibears down against Glenbard North. | JCunningham/For Sun-Times Media

Lincoln-Way East relief pitcher Sarah Esposito bears down against Glenbard North. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 16, 2014 6:46AM



EAST PEORIA, Ill. — After his team’s Class 4A semifinal loss to Warren, Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew said he didn’t want to come to state and go 0-2.

The Panthers made sure that didn’t happen Saturday with a 6-0 win over Lincoln-Way East in the third-place game at the EastSide Centre.

Senior pitcher Cece Dopart went the distance for Glenbard North (31-6), striking out 12 and scattering three hits against a hard-hitting Griffins’ team that entered the weekend scoring an average of 8.8 runs.

The Panthers took third place for the third time in program history — following 1996 and 2001 under Jim McKinney. In his fourth season, Sanew lifted his career record to 111-20 with a second 30-plus win season. His teams have never lost more than six games in a season.

“We did a great job and we have seniors that were leading this team and we are going to miss them,” Sanew said. “They took us on the ride of our lives this year. I can’t say enough about what they did and I wish them the best of luck in the future.

“We did a better job of attacking the ball and it’s good to bounce back.”

Lincoln-Way East (27-12) wrapped up their second-best season in program history. It was their third appearance at state and first under third-year coach Elizabeth Pawlicki. The Griffins won state in 2002, but didn’t place in 2007 under Aimee Lonigro in the now defunct two-class system.

“We liked being under the radar and if you’re ranked up there you have a target on your back,” said Pawlicki, who has a 72-25 record. “When you get here it’s a whole new ballgame, and this was all about experience. We’ve always had the bar raised. We went out and played softball and that’s all we can ask for.”

Dopart (27-5) gave up singles to Olivia Prieto and Blake Ruiz and a double to Jenny Van Geertry, but did not allow a runner past second.

Dopart also had plenty of support early as her offense put up two in the first inning and four in the third against Griffins starter Nikole Van Gennep (13-4). Sarah Esposito entered in relief in the fourth, striking out six, not allowing a run, and scattering six of the 13 hits.

Sydney Benz and Stephanie Campos each had three hits for the Panthers, while Sarah Petzhold and Heather Sperlazzo each had two. Sperlazzo had a pair of RBI and Benz, Campos and Petzhold all doubled.

“I’m proud of my team and we accomplished a lot,” said Dopart, who will play at Eckhart College in Florida next Fall. “We are all really good friends and we all got along so well. It was an amazing season.”



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