By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
In the Illinois High School Association Class 2A softball postseason, Staunton and Carlinville each obtained dramatic victories that earned them a shot at a regional championship.
Staunton shocked its arch-rival Gillespie in Greenville and Carlinville took out Tri-City at Buffalo.
Staunton vs. Gillespie
Taylor Nolan unleashed the swing of her life and crushed an Emma Gipson pitch over the fence for a heart-stopping two-run homer that gave Staunton a 5-4 victory over Gillespie May 17.
The Bulldogs, which hadn’t beaten the Miners since 2016, were trailing 4-3 and down to their final two outs before Nolan went deep. Lilly Bandy led off the seventh with a single to trigger the rally.
The Miners fought back in the bottom half of the seventh as Sadie Sholtis led off with a double and Megan Rife drew a free pass, but Gianna Bianco survived the threat. The Staunton reliever cleaned up the mess via a double play and strikeout to seal the upset.
The Bulldogs advanced to play Salem in the regional championship, but fell short by a final score of 4-2.
Staunton finished the season 19-9 overall. The Bulldogs began their playoff run with a 15-0 quarterfinal thrashing of Greenville May 15.
Gillespie, 25-4, went ‘one and done’ for the first time since 2014 after being awarded a quarterfinal bye.
Carlinville vs. Tri-City
Hannah Gibson broke a 5-5 tie with a clutch two-run knock in the top of the 10th inning to help Carlinville tie its school record in single-season victories at the Buffalo Tri-City regional May 17.
Kendal Maddox and Braley Wiser each led off with singles and scored the winning runs after Chloe Pope was struck by a pitch to load the bases for Gibson. Pope crossed the plate with an insurance tally on a passed ball later in the inning.
Han. Gibson additionally turned in eight frames from the rubber, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out seven Tri-City batters. Her sister, Hallie Gibson, took over in the ninth and landed the final six outs.
Han. Gibson finished the afternoon with a game-high four RBI for the Cavaliers.
Carlinville ended the season 19-10 overall following a 9-1 loss to top-seeded Stanford (Olympia) in the title game last weekend.
In other action, Southwestern, North Mac and Bunker Hill each lost their respective regional semifinals.
Southwestern (17-13) was blanked by Columbia, 3-0.
North Mac (13-10) landed on both sides of two blowouts. The Panthers advanced past the quarters by beating
Riverton, 15-0, then fell flat against Stanford Olympia, 13-0.
In a No. 5 vs. No. 3 Class 1A upset, Bunker Hill (14-9) fell to Mulberry Grove, 2-0, in eight innings.