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Daily Journal
     May 10, 2022      #72-130 KDJ
 
Description.

Boilers' balanced bats, Spaulding's arm lead to

By Mason Schweizer
mschweizer@daily-journal.com


BOURBONNAIS — Technically, Bradley-Bourbonnais was the de facto All-City softball champion last season after defeating Bishop McNamara and taking a COVID-19 forfeit victory against Kankakee. But when the Boilermakers had the chance to host the Kays for the first time since before the pandemic on Monday, they knew it was their chance to give the Boilermakers softball program the feeling of defeating both All-City foes on the actual diamond for the first time since many of them were born in 2006.

“We didn’t get to play Kankakee last year, so after we won (against Bishop McNamara last month) I was really eager to beat them so it could feel like a real All-City [title],” sophomore pitcher Libby Spaulding said.

Thanks to a dominant outing in the circle from Spaulding and a lineup that saw nine players record a hit — including five multi-hit efforts — the Boilers did just that with an 11-1 win in six innings to leave little dispute as to who the 2022 All-City softball champions are.

“[Coach Haylee Beck] said it was time to prove it and show them what we’ve got,” said sophomore shortstop Ellie Haggard, who doubled twice on the da. “I think we all have a little grit in us.”

Spaulding was sensational early on, zipping through the Kays’ lineup through the first three innings with as much speed as her fastball had on the evening, as she sat the visitors down quickly and in order through the first three frames on her way to a complete game in which she struck out 11 and allowed an earned run on four hits and no walks.

“The funny thing is I have her in class and when we were talking today, she was very loose,” Beck said of Spaulding. “She knows her expectations are high, but her goal is to be better each year and each game.

“And because of that, she has days like today, [when] she dominates.”

The Kays strung a few hits together in the fourth, including a Kylee Cunningham RBI single, but the Boilers already had put together three-run second and third innings by then.

Senior outfielder Bri Melchor was responsible for runs in each of those innings, driving in a run on a second-inning single and another run on a laser-beam double in the third.

“She’s very consistent at what she does,” Beck said of the Blackburn College commit. “She’s a senior but doesn’t have the experience some of our other seniors do, so for her to step up in her first real All-City this year was awesome.”

The Boilers responded to the Kays’ brief fourth-inning counter with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. After Spaulding and Kays pitcher Maddie James each threw 1-2-3 fifth innings, the Boilers got back-to-back doubles — one from Haggard that scored a pair and another from Spaulding that brought Haggard home — to end the game via the 10-run rule.

With the win, the All-City champs improved to 14-8-1 on the season. And now with a combined 3-0 record in actual games against city competition the past two years, Beck said the Boilers have begun to make winning what had been an elusive championship an expectation rather than a goal.

“I think we do a really nice job of allowing it to be our mindset, which it has to be first and foremost before we step on the field,” Beck said. “If that’s our mindset and that’s how we feel, we have to execute, and we did that against two area teams where the rivalries are strong, and it’s fun to play those.”

The Kays fell to 11-6 on the season, the third year coach Allie VadeBoncoeur has been back at her alma mater. After no season in 2019-20 because of COVID-19 and no game against the Boilermakers last year for the same reason, VadeBoncoeur noticed the increased confidence her girls had Monday compared to what she would have expected in those first two years.

“My first year, if we came into this game, we’d be scared out of our minds, but this year, we came in and expected to compete,” VadeBonceour said. “I have a young team with just one senior (Avery Jackson) and most of my lineup coming back next year, so the future is bright.

“We just have to get better, and I think from Day 1 to today, we’ve changed how people think of us.”

STAT BOOK

Haggard netted two RBIs and three runs on her two two-baggers. Melchor scored twice and drove in a pair on her double and single. Spaulding went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in addition to her 11-strikeout complete game. Kiersten Martin had a two-run single and scored, and Natalie Johnson added an RBI double.

Avery Jackson went 2-for-3 with a double for the Kays. Breanna Lamie singled and scored on Cunningham’s RBI single.

UP NEXT

The Boilers have a quick turnaround before they host defending IHSA Class 4A runners-up Lincoln-Way Central at 4:30 p.m. in a clash of Southwest Suburban Conference Red Division foes.

The Kays will look to continue their undefeated Southland Athletic Conference season when they visit Thornridge at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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