After the Grayslake North softball season closed in a 7-0 decision to Marengo in the IHSA Class 3A sectional final last Saturday, a few tears were shed. But there were also several smiles as the North girls knew exactly what they had accomplished.
Sure, they were disappointed losing that game. Sure, North had a 20-win season but no one truly expected the Knights to win a regional or a sectional. Simply, the team had no history of postseason success and was filled with young players.
Well guess what? The Knights (22-11) fooled most everyone. Those young players, like Jordyn Bowen, Kristi Gandy and Kelsey Borders were experienced softball players despite not being seniors.
Marengo advanced to the IHSA state softball tournament this weekend, and won the championship game 1-0 over LaSalle-Peru. Meanwhile, the Knights are already focused on rebuilding for next year.
That's because Gandy will be back throwing fastballs next year. She's also very potent with a bat in her hand.
Slugger Borders has another year of eligibility. She can return to her spot at third base.
And Bowen has another two years of softball. The North shortstop comes gifted with a strong throwing arm. She brings speed to the club.
There will be more help from the likes of Christina Freese. The first baseman made sure her club wasn't no hit last Saturday. She lined a clean hit to center in the fifth inning. When Gandy looks in for her signs next year, she'll see a familiar face behind the mask. Catcher Brooke Tracy should also return.
Recap: Last Saturday's game did not start out well for the Knights. Marengo scored two quick runs. By the third inning, it was 6-0.
"Marengo was the better team,'' said North coach Molly Jones. "They came to play. That wasn't our typical defense."
You can feel for junior infielder Jessica Davis. She hit two positive ropes. She was rewarded for her efforts with two outs. That was a line drive to second and liner to center.
"We did have some great at-bats,'' Jones said.
Borders had the final hit of the season with a crisp single in the seventh.
There is no need to worry about the Knights. They should be back in the playoffs next season.
"A lot of my players play travel ball,'' Jones said. "We have seven juniors coming back. I want them to remember how this feels. We are determined to get back."
Even a freshman played in this sectional contest. Nikki Livengood has three more years of eligibility.
North did have to say good-bye to three seniors, center fielder Brianna Leon, left fielder Raquel Ness and right fielder Hailey Badovinac.
In the original story, we neglected to include all three seniors on the 2011 team. Patch regrets the error.