EAST PEORIA – Long after the Kaneland softball team iced a third-place finish in Class 3A with a six-run fifth inning Saturday, junior center fielder Rachel Goress sported an ice pack on her left shoulder.
Having pinched the rotator cuff in her nonthrowing shoulder during Friday’s state semifinal loss to Marengo, Goress laid down one final sacrifice when the Knights faced Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin for third place.
Remaining in the lineup defensively, Goress yielded her No. 2 spot in the batting order to senior right-hander Angie Morrow, who entered the game with only one official at-bat in 2015.
“It was fine. I had confidence in her,” Goress said. “Even though she didn’t hit (much) all season, I knew that she would be able to hit definitely better than I would be able to.”
Morrow helped the Knights’ attack with a hit in the early stages of Saturday’s fifth-inning outburst and stung the ball sharply throughout the game.
A first-inning groundout to shortstop prevented her from maintaining a lofty 1.000 average – Morrow doubled in her regular-season at-bat – but Morrow didn’t mind.
Convincing Knights coach Peter Goff went seamlessly, too.
“I told him I could bat,” Morrow said. “I was like, ‘I’ll do it. Why not? I have nothing to lose.’ ”
Always in position: Morrow handled Sacred Heart-Griffin in a smooth complete game, but if she had been unable to pitch for any reason, it’s likely Goff would have summoned left fielder Courtney Davis.
Davis threw a five-inning no-hitter against Burlington Central in the Knights’ season opener March 19, an outing she otherwise considers ancient history.
“It just feels like this year has gone so long,” Davis said. “I feel like we’re a new team since then.”
Morrow, for one, no longer is bothered by the pulled wisdom teeth that kept her out during the early season.
Then there’s Davis, a junior who adopted quickly to her first extended outfield duty this season after serving as a pitcher and utility infielder in the past.
“My biggest hurdle was just seeing the ball and trying to react,” Davis said, “because it’s a lot different than playing first base and the right side of the field.”
Long-distance support: Goress’ older brother, 2013 Kaneland alumnus Dan Goress, added to the Knights athletics hardware store with a Class 2A 145-pound state wrestling title a few months before his graduation.
Military obligations – he’s a United States Marine stationed in Georgia – prevented Dan Goress from traveling to East Peoria.
“He wishes he could have come,” Rachel Goress said, “but he’s rooting for us down there.”