Softball: Defending champs await Bartlett in state semifinals
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media June 7, 2012 6:53PM
Bartlett's Tori Burke could have her hands full against Moline's high-powered offense in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
CLASS 4A STATE FINALS
At East Peoria’s Eastside Centre
Game 1) Marist (25-15) vs. Elk Grove (31-8), 2:30
Game 2) Bartlett (31-8) vs. Moline (30-10), 5
Third Place) Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2:30.
Title) Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 5
Updated: June 12, 2012 6:06PM
Moline’s softball team has four players with five or more home runs and 34 round-trippers total, or about 21 more than Bartlett has as a team.
So it’s no mystery what Bartlett pitcher Tori Burke has to do to beat the Maroons in the Class 4A state semifinals at 5 p.m. on Friday in East Peoria when she faces the likes of Moline’s Jordon de los Reyes (eight homers), Emily Rasche (seven homers), Brittny Drish (six homers), and Jordan Meyers (five homers).
Keep the ball down.
Then again, Hawks coach Jim Wolfsmith thinks his pitcher might be exactly the type that can give the power-hitting Maroons trouble.
“Tori is a movement, control, location pitcher,” Wolfsmith said. “You’ve got to do that against a team that can hit the ball. You just can’t rear back and try to fire it by them.
“You’ve got to change speeds, change locations, change eye levels and not let them get comfortable at the plate.”
Seven of the players in Moline’s lineup are back from the team that won a controversial 9-8 decision over St. Charles North for last year’s Class 4A state title.
Four Moline players — Drish (SS), Hayley Marlier (C), Kaitlyn Knary (OF) and Jordan de los Reyes (1B) — have all committed to play at Illinois State, while Rasche will play at Division III Southwestern.
“They definitely swing hard and they hit the ball hard,” Wolfsmith said. “You’ve got to hit your spot and make them hit your pitches, and if you execute good things happen.”
Moline (30-10) isn’t just a home run team. Drish is hitting .496, Alaina Hofmann .455, and Jordan Meyers .427. Moline scored 13 runs or more eight times and has averaged 5.8 runs per game in the postseason.
“We’ve just got to play our game and hope for the best,” Burke said.
As impressive as Moline’s numbers are, 10 teams beat the Maroons, including Burlington Central in the second game of a doubleheader.
Pitching hasn’t been a Moline strength as No. 1 pitcher Alaina Hofmann carries a 3.33 ERA and No. 2 pitcher Shelby Blair has a 2.60 ERA.
If Bartlett (31-8) can get past Moline, Elk Grove’s hard-throwing, Michigan State-bound Dani Goranson could be the challenge in the finals. But first the Grenadiers (31-8) have to get past tourney underdog Marist (25-15) in Friday’s other semifinal.