Winning a Class 4A sectional title, the Marist lineup scored just enough to advance and move on, winning back-to-back 1-0 games.
But with a state semifinal berth on the line, the RedHawks’ bats needed to wake up.
Senior Jessica Balich and her teammates were up to the challenge.
Hosting a Class 4A supersectional on June 3, Marist thumped Geneva 10-2 to move on to state for the second time in 3 years.
“We were winning, but only by a little bit last week,” Balich said. “It was against teams we felt like we could have picked it up more. Our bats started to come alive a lot more than they had been.”
Marist (35-2) will play Huntley (33-7) on June 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Eastside Centre in Peoria in a Class 4A state semifinal.
The third-place game (1 p.m.) and championship (3:30) are June 8.
Defeating Geneva, Marist scored 2 runs in the second and 4 apiece in the third and fifth with 13 total hits and 4 walks.
Balich knocked in 2 runs, her 2-run single in the fifth putting Marist up 7-1.
Senior Lexi Voss started things off early with a two-run bomb to straightaway center field in the first.
Her rocket hit the Geneva fielder’s glove and over the fence.
“Our bats had been so hot. We were waiting for them to wake up honestly,” Voss said. “We don’t take any team lightly. A good win, a nasty win, 1-0 is still a win. That’s all we look for.”
Voss reached base 4 times against Geneva, finishing with 2 runs and 3 RBI.
Angela Zedak (Northwestern) added 2 RBI and 3 hits. Kelly Walinski also knocked in a run for the RedHawks. Cassie Lindmark reached base 3 times.
In the circle, Zedak allow 1 run on a hit and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts in 4 innings to pick up the win. Sophomore Abby Dunning gave up a run on a hit and 3 walks with 4 strikeouts in 3 innings.
The win was Marist’s 35th in a row since the team started 1-2.
For the RedHawks, the attention shifts now to winning state, not just getting there.
Voss, Balich, Zedak, Lindmark, Madison Garofalo, Mia Crotty and Blaire Browne were all on the 2017 team that finished fourth in Class 4A.
Balich said the team is ready for state redemption.
“We didn’t really expecting anything sophomore year,” Balich said. “We went in thinking ‘Whoa, it’s state!’ Now, we’re prepared and more mature. We’re mentally more prepared. We feel like we’ll come up and show what we can do.”
Backing up her teammate, Voss said the 2019 run is all about the title.
“Sophomore year was an awesome experience, but this year, we want it all,” Voss said. “We’re seniors. We need to step in there. We’re not happy to just be there. We’re going to be happy with the ring.”