Sandburg reaches Class 4A softball semifinals
Before the 2014 softball season began, Sandburg senior shortstop Cierra Adamus told Lady Eagles coach Jim Fabianski she was going to help lead them to a state title.
This past Monday Adamus did her part to ensure that her promise wasn’t hollow.
Adamus, who began her high school career at Marian Catholic and spent some time in right field earlier this spring, rose high to snag a seventh-inning line drive and turned it into a game-ending double play by firing to second baseman Bri Soltis.
“Right off the bat I knew what was happening,” Adamus said. “That ball came and I’m praying. I’m like, ‘Do not drop this ball. You know this is routine. You got this.’
“And when I get it, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to tag [the runner] or not because I didn’t know how far she was [from the base]. Everything was going so slow; it was like slow motion. [Soltis] was sitting there at [second] base, and it was just so perfect and so amazing, and that last play just made my senior year right there.”
It also sewed up a 4-2 victory over Naperville Central at the Class 4A North Central College Supersectional and sent Sandburg on to this weekend’s state semifinals at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria. The Lady Eagles (23-15), who won the 2010 state championship, meet fellow SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue member Lincoln-Way East Friday afternoon.
“Everybody comes alive in the playoffs,” Sandburg pitcher Sarah Herold said. “And here’s us — the underdogs. I consider us underdogs and we’re going to state.”
Herold certainly did her share to make that possible as she stopped the Lady Redhawks on six hits over 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight and walking just two.
“My screwball and my riseball definitely [were] working,” she said. “I got some girls fishing for it, so it was nice.”
Naperville Central’s only runs were supplied by Kaitlyn Skarecky, who stroked a two-out single that deflected off Herold’s glove in the sixth and trickled into center field. Emily Griskell relieved Herold and left runners stranded at the corners by inducing a popout to Adamus in short left field.
By the time they finally broke through against Herold, the Lady Redhawks were in arrears by four. The Lady Eagles put up three of those runs in their initial at-bat, with junior Kristen Zarate’s two-RBI double serving as the critical blow.
Zarate, who slapped the ball over a drawn-in infield, brought home Katie Krzus and Maddie Hanley. Karli McLaughlin’s sacrifice fly had gotten Sandburg’s scoring underway.
“For most teams, they see my size and see how small I am, so they expect me to bunt all the time,” Zarate said. “I just knew I was going to hit straight up right after that. [I wanted to] just relax at my at-bats and just let what I’ve learned my whole life take over there.”
Soltis’ RBI single that drove in Adamus completed the Lady Eagles’ offensive production in the fourth. After that, Herold and the Sandburg defense took over.
Adamus’ starring role on that defense might not have seemed possible a couple months ago when she was struggling with her fielding. She didn’t make it back to shortstop until Senior Night in mid-May.
“Coach has a time before the season when we have a one-on-one talk, and I told him, ‘I’m your shortstop. I’m going to win state this year,’” Adamus said. “[But] I wasn’t even practicing the infield, and I really, really loved shortstop — that is my position. And in right field I wasn’t doing anything.”
“[Assistant coach] Anna [Olson] and I took a chance on [Adamus] as a junior,” Fabianski said, “and it’s the best move that we ever made.”