In cool, windy conditions Thursday, the Rockets tracked down every wind-blown fly ball and gloved every slow-rolling grounder while they waited for their chance on offense.
When it came in the fifth inning, Rock Falls made the most of it. An infield single, a double down the right-field line and a hit batsman loaded the bases, then Huycke and Nelson did just enough to flip base hits into the outfield grass to bracket an error and an RBI groundout.
Five runs without trying to do too much, and the Rockets were on their way.
“Putting the ball in play is key for us,” Nelson said, “and we just want to make them make plays, especially in not-so-good weather conditions. I think playing in the wind Thursday will maybe give us a little advantage, and we just want to have good at-bats and put the pressure on their defense.”
All year long, it’s the little things that have made a big difference for Rock Falls, and it becomes even more intensified in the postseason. Chappell has seen his team play great one game and not-so-great the next, but things have gotten progressively more consistent as the year has gone on.
As always, he’ll stress those things before the game Saturday. But when it comes down to it, he’s confident in relying on his players’ know-how and willingness to do whatever it takes to win – as well as their experience of success, not only from last year’s run to the sectional final, but the other sports they play, too.
“We have to do the little things well, and we’re either going to do that or not do that,” Chappell said. “If we come ready to play, and play our game, that’s all we can ask for.”
“We have a lot of experience on this team, and we all want to win,” Nelson added. “We know what it takes to get the job done, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
Class 3A Rochelle Regional final
Who: No. 2 Rock Falls (20-8) vs. No. 1 Sycamore (23-11)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rochelle High School Sports Complex