RURAL STREATOR — The Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell softball Warriors survived some defensive misplays and being out-hit by a 2-to-1 margin through seven regulation innings of their Tuesday evening Tri-County Conference showdown with visiting Peoria Christian, then survived a Chargers runner in scoring position with one out in the top of the eighth.
WFC didn't survive that same high-wire act in the ninth.
Two Warriors errors and a flyball lost in the setting sun in the top of the second extra inning led to two Peoria Christian runs, and despite a Kylie Kindermann triple the Warriors weren't able to get the potential tying run on base here in a 4-2, nine-inning loss Tuesday in chilly rural Streator.
"That's kind of been the tale of our season this year," said Warriors coach Jordan Farris. "It seems like in games that we're close we manage to shoot ourselves in the foot, be it not getting a timely hit, which we didn't today, or mistakes on defense.
"It just seems to be the case so far."
WFC's ninth-inning fielding troubles and inability to knot things again in the bottom of the ninth ended what was for most of the game a riveting pitchers' duel, with WFC leading 2-0 after plating two unearned runs in the bottom of the first and the Chargers tying it 2-2 with an unearned run of their own in the top of the fifth.
Peoria Christian ace Abbi Taylor and Warriors junior right-hander August Gillman had different approaches but similar results — Taylor overpowering/pulling the string on the WFC lineup to the tune of 14 strikeouts and just eight hits and one earned run allowed over nine innings; Gillman spinning a Houdini-like escape-artist performance, scattering 13 hits, stranding a dozen runners (including the bases loaded in the second and the fifth), striking out seven and allowing just one earned run over nine full frames. Neither walked a batter.
"Hats off to August," said Farris. "She did a really good job pitching around hits and some errors. We had some trouble getting ahead in the count, but she definitely had some resiliency. She was able to work out of some jams, and her defense backed her up a few times.
"We've seen (Taylor) the past four years, and we know what she has — good velocity on her fastball, mixing speeds well with that changeup. It was good seeing us come out of the gate against her, but I didn't like seeing us stall there afterwards."
The Warriors (5-6 overall, 3-3 TCC) scored their two opening-inning runs thanks to singles off the bats of Elise Kane, Emily Friese and Kindermann as well as a pair of errors in the Peoria Christian (2-2, 1-1) outfield. After that, though, WFC managed no runs against Taylor despite Kindermann's three-hit day and a two-hit showing from Kane.
"That is our senior stud," PC coach Angela Sheets said of Taylor. "She's going to work hard for us ... and (Gillman) today had a nice pitch that broke on us. They were (shifted defensively to the) left on us and we were chopping at that pitch. We just needed to be patient and let it get into the zone."
An odd and controversial batting-out-of-order ruling ended the Peoria Christian sixth, and a just as odd and controversial L6-3-6 double play defused a promising WFC half of the eighth, sending the 2-2 tie ballgame to the ninth where the Chargers used a dropped flyball, the aforementioned solar-aided single and a couple off-target throws home to ultimately take the Tri-County win.
At rural Streator
Peoria Christian 4, Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell 2 (9 inn.)
PEORIA CHRISTIAN (4) — Miester c 5-1-2-1, Jarvis cf 5-1-1-0, Mahasi ss 5-1-3-1, Taylor p 4-0-1-0, Hermann 1b 5-0-0-0, Childs 2b 5-0-0-0, Durr rf 4-1-2-0, Clark 3b 4-0-1-0, Rodman lf 4-0-3-0. Totals 41-4-13-2.
WFC (2) — Kane ss 4-1-2-0, Jenkins 2b 4-0-1-0, Friese lf 4-1-1-0, Moritz 1b 4-0-0-0, Kindermann 3b 4-0-3-0, Plesko rf 3-0-0-0, Gillman p 4-0-0-0, Easton c 3-0-0-0, Dunahee cf 1-0-0-0, Walter cf 2-0-1-0. Totals 33-2-8-0.
Peoria C. (2-2, 1-1) 010 010 002 — 4 13 2
WFC (5-6, 3-3) 200 000 000 — 2 8 3
LOB - Peoria C. 12; WFC 5. 2B - Durr 2. 3B - Kindermann. SAC - Plesko. SB - Kane 2. HBP - Taylor (by Gillman).
Peoria Christian ip r er h bb k
Taylor (W) 9 2 1 8 0 14
Gillman (L) 9 4 1 13 0 7