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Late-inning mistakes costly for Kaneland softball

MAPLE PARK – After playing solid defense all game, a couple mistakes in the field ended up costing the Kaneland softball team on Tuesday.

Visiting Yorkville scored three times in the top of the seventh to come back and stun Kaneland, 4-3, in a Northern Illinois Big 12 East game.

The Knights entered the final inning leading 3-1, but three of the first four batters reached base against senior pitcher Ellissa Eckert to load the bases with one out. Junior second baseman Allie Miller played a ground ball, but threw home instead of taking the easy out at first. Sophomore catcher Paige Kuefler couldn’t come up with the throw, and a run scored to make it a 3-2 game.

The next Yorkville batter drove a fly ball to center field, which was caught for the inning’s second out, but the throw home was off line, allowing the tying run to score. The go-ahead run crossed moments later on an error.

Kaneland (7-2, 1-1 NI Big 12 East) put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the inning, but the Knights couldn’t engineer a comeback of their own.

“It’s a tough one to take,” senior shortstop Allyson O’Herron said. “We just made some mental errors and they did a great job hitting the ball. I definitely just think it was some stuff that we need to clean up, but we played a great game.”

“It was difficult, especially when we didn’t execute,” Kaneland coach Brian Willis said. “This is hopefully a character-builder for us. Yorkville didn’t give up, so give them all the credit in the world.”

Yorkville scored the game’s first run on an RBI single in the second inning, but Kaneland grabbed the momentum in the third thanks to an odd play on the bases.

There was a lot of confusion resulting from a pair of rundowns and whether or not runners were tagged, but in the end umpires ruled a double play, stopping a Yorkville rally in its tracks.

In the bottom of the inning, Kaneland scored twice, tying the game on a double by O’Herron and taking a 2-1 lead on a Kuefler RBI single. Junior center fielder Lanie Callaghan came home to score the Knights’ third run on a double steal in the fourth inning.

“I definitely think it was a momentum turn when [junior second baseman] Allie [Miller] got on base [to lead off the bottom of the third]. There was a runner on second. I knew we had to score because we were down,” O’Herron said. “I think that was definitely a switch in the momentum right there because we scored and we all got excited and into the game.”

It was a tough game to lose for the Knights, but they already know what needs to improve.

“We need to work on bunting, and we need to work on getting our heads into the game and not getting flustered when there’s an error, because they’re going to happen,” O’Herron said. “So we just need to work on shutting it down and not worrying about all the stuff that’s going on around us.”

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