EAST PEORIA – York’s softball team entered Friday’s Class 4A semifinals hoping to not only surpass the fourth-place showing of its last state team in 2013 but also earn a spot in its first title game.
But the Dukes' high hopes were frustrated by Rock Island lefthander Ashley Peters, who allowed no runs on one hit through the first six innings, and Madison Michaels, who went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer.
The Dukes finally got a run on two hits against the junior in the seventh but it wasn’t enough and the Rocks captured a 3-1 win at EastSide Centre to reach the championship game in their first state trip.
Peters tossed a three-hitter and struck out 12 to outduel York freshman Lauren Derkowski, who allowed three runs on seven hits while also striking out 12 batters.
York (28-13-1) meets Palatine in Saturday’s 3 p.m. third-place game while Rock Island (31-5) will play Plainfield North in the title game at 5:30 p.m. North beat Palatine 7-0 in the other semifinal game.
“We needed to do a better job with our bats and that didn’t happen,” Dukes coach Elizabeth Munn said. “We didn’t make many adjustments at the plate. Lauren kept us in the game, there’s no doubt about it. She’s a terrific pitcher and has nothing to put her head down about since she hung in there.
“We’ll talk to the girls about how they can’t hang their heads and have to keep moving on and learn from this. It’s hard in the heat of the moment since they’re obviously upset and wanted to do well for everybody. But I have a tremendous amount of confidence in this group and there’s a lot of experience on the field with seven seniors. It’s just a great group.”
The Rocks moved in front for good in the third inning when Raghen Walker drew a leadoff walk and Mackenzie Melody ran for her and was sacrificed over. She moved to third on an infield hit by Peters and scored on a wild pitch.
Then in the fourth, Delaney Kelley led off with an infield hit and Michaels followed with a two-run homer to center to give Rock Island a 3-0 advantage. York picked up its first hit in the bottom half of that inning when Madison Collins (2 for 3) got a two-out single to left.
The Dukes finally got on the scoreboard in the final frame when Collins led off with a double to right and Sophia Tracjevski ran for her and scored on a single to center by Izzy Smith.