Watching the Evergreen Park Girls Softball Senior League All-Stars win a state championship and make a run to the Central Region semifinals, Coach Ed Carter saw his roster step up time and time again with timely hits, clutch defense and strong pitching.
However, for Carter, his team’s feisty mentality impressed him the most.
The EP All-Stars lost 11-9 to Iowa District 5 on July 24 in Byron, Mich., in the Central Region semifinals.
“This was a team that came together as a group and was happy to be together,” Carter said. “I was impressed how quick they gelled with that win-win attitude. We all had the same goal.”
The Senior League Softball Central Region was held July 22-24 with a berth to the Senior League Softball World Series on the line.
In the semis, EP trailed 8-4 but rebounded to go up 9-8 through 6 innings.
Iowa answered with 3 runs in the top of the seventh to claim the win.
Three of EP’s 5 games were decided by 2 runs or less.
“That was a matchup of two evenly-matched teams,” Carter said. “Most of our games, they could have gone either way with a play here or there. We fought all the way.”
Madeline Davis (RBI, run, 3 hits), Anaya Carter (2 hits, 2 runs), Bridget Murphy (2 hits, 2 RBI) and Dora Cihocki (2 RBI) paced EP.
The lineup finished with 12 hits.
Coach Carter was impressed with his team’s ability to improvise in each game.
“The success, it was about great pitching, really good defense and timely hitting,” Carter said. “If we needed a big hit, we got it. It was a never give up attitude. We always felt like we could win a game.”
Davis (Mt. Greenwood) was the team’s ace in the circle and was also a power threat in the middle of the order for EP.
Shortstop Grace Van Cleave and first baseman Anaya Carter were also consistent, dangerous hitters.
The run to the Central Region tournament also provided several players with a chance to erase some bad memories from two years ago.
“This group at 14U, they lost the state championship in 2017,” Carter said. “It was a big opportunity to redeem themselves. They really seized the opportunity and wanted to do something with it.
EP won the Illinois Senior Softball State Champion on July 14 with a 5-2 victory over Tri-County in a tournament played in Melrose Park.
“As a team, as individuals, they never gave up,” Carter said. “They learned that about themselves. It was ‘never say die.’ If everyone does her part, good things happen, so back each other up and play as a team.”
The EP roster includes Norah Burke, Carter, Cihocki, Yiselle Garcia, Shannon Izzo, Kayli Kenzinger, Hannah Leen, Jade Stanson, Van Cleave, Jada White, Davis, Lizzy McQuillan and Bridget Murphy.
Carter is assisted by Eddie Garcia, Nick White and Erin Davis.
Evergreen Park 6
Kentucky (District 7) 5
Kenzinger paced EP with 2 hits, and Garcia added a run, hit, RBI and walk. Van Cleave and Izzo tallied a RBI apiece. Carter, Cihocki and Kenzinger scored a run each.
Evergreen Park 5
Michigan (District 5) 4
After the loss to Michigan District 9, EP regrouped with a huge win in the consolation bracket featuring big efforts from Van Cleave (3 RBI, 2 hits), Izzo (2 runs) and Davis (2 hits).
Michigan (District 9) 12
Evergreen Park 6
Davis finished 2 for 4 with 3 RBI to lead EP in the loss. Racz (2 hits, 2 runs) and Murphy (2 runs) also provided key contributions.
Evergreen Park 12
Kentucky (District 7) 0
Van Cleave, Carter (2 runs) and Davis knocked in 2 runs apiece, and Racz (2 runs), McQuillan (3 hits, 2 runs) and Izzo (2 hits) chipped in to lead a balanced offensive attack.