COAL CITY — Coming out of the gate, it looked like the Kankakee softball team had its hitting shoes on. The Kays came out swinging and loaded the bases on three straight hits.
Kankakee walked back to the dugout that half inning with one run, however, as Coal City pitcher Emily Aichele found a way to wiggle off the hook. In fact, Aichele found a way to work around seven hits, three walks and a hit batsman in recording a 4-3 regional win.
"That first inning kind of snuck up on us," Coal City coach Stephanie Harmon said. "They have some good hitters at the top of their lineup. The main goal was to have Emily keep the ball down and to let the defense make play. And they did today. I give the defense their props there for getting the job done."
"it shows our defense is strong," Coal City leadoff hitter Madison Giordano said. "Usually when that kind of thing happens, things don't turn out very good. But I had faith in the team there that we could defend it."
Coal City immediately capitalized on the momentum when Giordano singled, stole second, went to third on a one-out single by Makenna Emerson and scored on a throwing error.
From there the Kankakee scored in the second on a walk, wild pitch and an RBI single but Coal City answered in the bottom of the third inning when Giordano reached on a throwing error in which she took second and an RBI single by Ashlyn Hanson.
Coal City took the lead in the fourth when Abby Olsen singled and went to third on a throwing error. Mady Bunton then had an RBI single. Kankakee answered that with a run in the fifth on a walk and two singles.
With the game in the balance, Bunton led off the sixth with a single. She would eventually steal second and go to third on a wild pitch, but Giordano came through with the game-winning RBI single. It was a small bouncer up the third-base line that she just beat at first.
"It was a chop. I just wanted to get it down," Giordano said. "I noticed during warmups that their corners were slower getting the ball to first than the middle, so that was where I was going — to the corner."
"She couldn't have played that better," Harmon said. "That was the perfect spot."
Coal City is now 18-11 on the season while Kankakee bows out with a 21-10 mark. The Coalers now play at Manteno against Peotone at 4:30 in the second round of regional action.