BY RICH HULL O'FALLON WEEKLY SPORTS
O’Fallon’s varsity softball team had their season ended in the IHSA 4A Sectional Finals, falling to Normal West 7 – 0.
The Wildcats scored the only runs that they would need in the first inning on a walk, RBI triple and a wild pitch made it 2 – 0. West’s pitcher and Seton Hall recruit, Reganne Camp, kept the Panthers’ hitters at bay. She struck out 12 and walked just one.
O’Fallon (21 – 8) threatened in the fourth inning when Allison Underwood broke up the no-hit bid with a one out single. She moved to second on single by Addison Barnouski. That was as close as they would get, though, as Camp got the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The score was still 2 – 0 heading into the fifth inning. O’Fallon had just comeback against the #1 seed Edwardsville Tigers in the semis, so they kept digging. The Wildcats wouldn’t let up, though. Camp kept the Lady Panthers from hitting, retiring the final eight batters she faced and West scored 5 more runs to ice the game and send them into the Super Sectionals.
Barnouski finished her senior season striking out four Wildcats, walking three and an impressive 17 – 4 record. She probably would have had a few more wins had she not been injured earlier in the year with a strained back.
The Lady Panthers reached the ‘Super Sixteen’ by beating Edwardsville, 9 – 5, earlier in the week at Collinsville.
O’Fallon wasn’t intimidated by the #1 seeded Tigers at all, as they had beaten them just three weeks earlier to end their conference win streak at 31 games. This was evident by their aggressiveness on the bases.
With two outs in the first inning, Underwood got on base with a single. She moved to second when Barnouski walked. Ginger Huskey stepped up and drove the ball to shallow center field. Underwood came around third with a head of steam and no intention of stopping there. Tigers’ center fielder, Rachel Anderson, gunned her down at the plate.
It looked like Edwardsville was getting the momentum to go their way in the second. They shut down the Panthers and scored two in their half of the inning. It would be short-lived, however.
Kaite Moore drew a lead-off walk to start the third inning. Underwood and Barnouski both singled to load the bases and the Panthers were in business. Huskey drove in the tying runs with a double to center. Caroline Keller had an RBI on a fielder’s choice to give O’Fallon the lead 3 – 2. A two out double by Nikole Patterson pushed the lead to 5 – 2 and forcing the Tigers’ starting pitcher out of the game. Moore came to the plate again and hit a double to score two more to complete the 7-run inning.
The Panthers added two more in the fifth inning to make it 9 – 2.
Edwardsville came back and scored a run in the sixth and had something going in the bottom of the seventh. They scored two with two outs on a single by Sarah Hangsleben. Hangsleben was thrown out at second, though, to end the game and send the Panthers to their first ever Sectional Finals.
Barnouski went all seven innings for the Panthers. She had two strike outs to go along with just two walks. She allowed nine hits scattered throughout the game. Katie Moore was 2- 3 with four RBI on two doubles. Huskey and Patterson were also 2- 3 with two doubles each and each had 2 RBIs to lead the Panthers.