Softball: Loyola defense blanks Maine South
Maine South's Jenna Christie pitches during the Class 4A regional championship game against Loyola on May 26, 2012. Loyola won 3-0. Christie is doing a better job of staying calm this season. | Michael Jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 26, 2012 11:14PM
On days when your pitcher doesn’t have her best stuff, you’d better play rock-solid defense and scratch out some runs.
That’s exactly what Loyola (22-7) did in a 3-0 win over Maine South (14-21), in a Class 4A regional title game Saturday.
“My screw was working for me today but my change came in too fast and they were hitting it,” Loyola pitcher Jamie Kiefer said. “It’s great to have all these girls behind me, diving and throwing their bodies everywhere. I needed my defense today.”
Lightning flashed on the northern horizon to stop action in the first inning of Saturday’s game between the fourth-seeded Ramblers and the fifth-seeded Hawks. Play resumed nearly an hour later and Loyola came out of the delay ready to play.
The Ramblers got a sacrifice fly from Rachel Lang and an RBI single from Melanie Miller in the bottom of the first inning to grab an early 2-0 lead.
“Our attitude has been to jump out ahead early and put the pressure on our opponents, especially in the playoffs,” Loyola coach Marty Jennings said. “You’ve got to find a way to get a run. We got hits when we needed to get hits, and sometimes in the playoffs all you need is one (run).”
Loyola left fielder Hannah Miller made the catch of the day during the top of the third inning, racing to the gap to steal a potential double off the bat of Maine South’s Nicole Johnson.
“Kudos to our defense today. I thought they did a great job defensively,” Jennings said. “We had great energy and great focus and it was a good day for us.”
Loyola’s Nina Puch had a pair of hits, and kicked off the third inning with a double to the left-field gap. Brooke Kehoe’s sacrifice fly moved Puch to third and when an attempted pick-off throw hit her, Puch scampered home with the game’s final run.
Kiefer (17-3) held the Hawks to a single hit the rest of the way in helping Loyola to advance to a sectional semifinal game against New Trier, a 6-0 winner over Glenbrook South on Saturday.
“The last time we lost to Loyola in the postseason (in 2009) they went on to win the state title,” Maine South coach Emmy Pasier said. “So good luck to them again.
“They made a couple of really nice plays and (Kiefer) is good. We’re good hitters and they took away a couple of really solid hits from us today.”