Battling through a sprained ankle she sustained in the regional final, Marist sophomore Easton Lotus was far from full strength in the sectional.
However, Lotus would still contribute in a big way.
She played the hero role, lifting the RedHawks to a thrilling 1-0 victory on May 31 over Riverside-Brookfield (R-B) for the sectional title.
According to Marist pitcher Angela Zedak, Lotus’ heroics with the bat were just the start.
“Easton is the best. She pushes herself so hard and works so hard,” Zedak said. “Her drive, she’s probably only at 50 percent right now. Easton got that inning started. She threw her glove on her head in the dugout and was yelling ‘Get the rally caps going!’”
The RedHawks (35-2) advanced to play Geneva on June 3 in the Marist Class 4A supersectional.
In the regional final on May 25, Lotus ran to first and landed awkwardly on the base, badly spraining her right ankle. The sophomore shortstop considered sitting against R-B but ultimately decided to play through the pain.
“[Coach Colleen Biebel] said I could pick. I said I was fine. I’d play,” Lotus said. “I wanted to help win for my team and play for my team.”
Stepping to the plate with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Lotus, a left-handed slapper with some pop, stung a R-B pitch to the gap in left-center.
Madison Garofalo scored the winner with ease from third as the ball rolled to the fence.
“I was trying to not do too much,” Lotus said. “I wanted to get it on the ground, get the runner in.”
Marist left 10 runners stranded, including leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and seventh.
While Lotus knocked in the game’s lone run, Zedak did the rest in the circle. The Northwestern-bound senior allowed just 2 hits and a walk with 7 strikeouts in 8 innings.
Pressure in a scoreless game? Zedak laughed at the notion.
“I felt great. I felt no pressure at all,” Zedak said. “I know we hit. That’s what we do as a team. Easton came through. She’s the most clutch player we have.”
Even with her swollen ankle, Lotus had 4 putouts at short. Senior Lexi Voss (Michigan) also delivered a Web-Gem catch against the wall in center field in the second inning.
“We have the best defense around. I’ll let hitters put it in play, and I know the defense is going to make the play,” Zedak said. “They make awesome plays.”
Lotus, Voss, Cassie Lindmark, Garofalo and Brianna Brown had a hit each for Marist.
The RedHawks defeated Sandburg 1-0 on May 29 in the sectional semifinals, exacting some revenge for a 9-8 loss to the Eagles in last season’s sectional final.
The sectional plaque was extra special for Biebel after last year’s upset loss.
“Losing last year kind of burned. It still burns,” Biebel said. “To come back today and get this win, it’s huge.”