Softball: Tori Burke leads Bartlett into sectional final
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media June 1, 2012 9:16PM
Bartlett's Jim Wolfsmith is The Courier-News Coach of the Year. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 6, 2012 11:20PM
Bartlett pitcher Tori Burke doesn’t dominate batters as much as she keeps them under control.
The senior right-hander had complete control for almost all of Friday’s Class 4A Lake Park Sectional semifinal for a 4-0 Bartlett victory that earned the Hawks an 11 a.m. title game matchup against top-seeded Glenbard North.
“We knew that if I hit my spots, they would put the ball into play where our fielding was expecting it,” Burke said. “I think we executed that very well as a team and I hit my spots and I think it showed that we kept them from scoring.”
Burke changed speeds and moved the ball around enough to hold West Chicago to four hits. She walked two, and even though she was trying to pitch to contact, Burke struck out eight.
“She continues a string of solid pitching for us,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. “Callie Dennison (2010 grad) was a bulldog on the mound in pressure situations for us. Lauren Wydra (2008 grad) was a bulldog on the mound in pressure situations.
“Tori, she bore down and got a lot of outs herself. We knew coming into the game they don’t really strike out a lot. I actually thought that the eight strikeouts (Burke) got was a little bit higher than the number that I thought we might get. But her ball was moving today.”
West Chicago had only two chances to score and Burke took care of one of those herself in the fifth by getting leadoff batter Jessica Wood to tap back to her for the final out after Casey Christ had doubled and Arielle McComb singled her to third.
The other time Burke (18-6) needed help — and got it. With Bartlett nursing a 1-0 lead thanks to Amanda Montbriand’s RBI single in the second, West Chicago got a leadoff walk by losing pitcher Katie Wiest and a sacrifice bunt by Rachel Johnson. When Amanda Gosbeth hit a line drive single to right, Bartlett right fielder Rachel Odolski came up firing and catcher Kaylyn Zierke applied a perfect tag for the out at the plate.
“Those are the plays that we live for,” Burke said. “I try to do my best, but when my outfielders and my infield make plays like that, I know that they’re all behind me.”
Wolfsmith called it a turning-point type of play.
“It was a huge play in the game because, you know, if that ball takes a funny bounce or she (Zierke) doesn’t field it cleanly or she doesn’t get the tag down, all the sudden it’s a tie ballgame and who knows what that does to the momentum of the game.”
Bartlett (29-8) went on the attack for insurance in the fifth and sixth. Montbriand, who was 2-for-3, doubled and scored on a single to right by pinch-hitter Stephanie Tomazin. In the sixth, Montbriand reached on an error and Holly Pagan a walk, then a two-base throwing error scored both.
West Chicago stayed in the game thanks to glove work by left fielder Casey Christ, who made one diving catch in foul territory in the fifth, and in the second had thrown out Kayla Haberstich trying to tag and score on a foul fly to left for an inning-ending double play.
“In the field, we made some great plays,” West Chicago coach Kim Wallner said after her team finished 24-13. “There were a couple of things that maybe would have helped make it close, but again, the hitting was not there.”
Bartlett had seven hits off Wiest, who struck out four and walked four.
In Saturday morning’s title game, the Hawks must contend with Glenbard North pitching ace Lilly Fecho (27-2), who beat them with Burke pitching 1-0 early in the regular season after eliminating Bartlett last year.
“Last year they beat us and kicked us out of our regional, so I think we kind of want some revenge on them,” Burke said. “And it will be a great game. I think we’ll all be up for it.”