BARRINGTON – One way or the other, Karlie Mellott or Kayla Wedl were going to be making an unwanted trip to Pennsylvania this weekend.
Mellott is a senior shortstop for the Sterling softball team, while Wedl is a sophomore pitcher for Wauconda. Their teams played on Monday in the Class 3A Barrington Supersectional.
For the second consecutive year, the Golden Warriors won a 3-1 decision against the Bulldogs at the supersectional level. The reward for that is a trip to the state tournament, which begins Friday in East Peoria.
Wedl, meanwhile, will be heading to Pennsbury, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, for an AAU tournament. She, like Mellott, is a member of the Illinois Chill 18U team. While Mellott will be trying to help her high school team win a state championship, Wedl will be Chilling in Pennsylvania.
"I talked to Karlie after the game, and wished her good luck at state," Wedl said, "and she wished me good luck in Pennsylvania. I wish it was the other way around."
Every other week from August through February, Mellott would make a 2-hour drive to Northbrook to practice with the Chill. They played in a handful of tournaments in the fall and winter months, and the season will once again fire up this summer.
She's more than happy to delay that experience, however, for one with her high school teammates.
"It's a team win," Mellott said. "I know I've said that before, but we really played well today up and down the lineup. This is all just so exciting for us."
Mellott was somewhat familiar with Wedl from the Chill practices, and put that to use on Monday by going 2-for-3. In the bottom of the first, Mellott hit a line-drive single to left. It equalled the hit total Wedl allowed in a sectional final victory Grayslake Central on Saturday.
In the fourth inning, Mellott hit a sharp grounder that went through the legs of Wauconda shortstop Lauren Nee for a two-base error. Mellott then scored on Nadia Trujillo's first home run of the season.
In the sixth, Mellott laid down a bunt when she saw the Wauconda third baseman, Alyssa Wagner, playing deep. The bunt was fielded by Wedl, who threw late and wildly to first base.
Mellott ended up on third base, and later scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Abri Hale to give the Golden Warriors a 3-1 cushion against a pitcher that wasn't used to that kind of treatment.
Wedl entered the game with a 24-6 record, a 1.54 earned run average, and 331 strikeouts against just 21 walks. She struck out just six Golden Warriors, however, after 17 punchouts in the sectional final.
It was Mellott, with her prior knowledge of Wedl, who passed along a scouting report to her teammates. What help it was is up for debate, but it couldn't have hurt.
"I had some live pitching against her, but not a ton," Mellott said. "I knew she moved the ball in and out, up and down, and she didn't walk people. We were going to have to hit our way on. That's what I told my teammates."
Wedl downplayed whatever help Mellott being an AAU teammate of hers might have had on the outcome of the game. She instead simply tipped her cap to Mellott.
"She's a good ballplayer, but I don't know if she's memorized all of my pitches yet," Wedl said. "I tried to mix things up a little bit, but Karlie is just a good hitter. She's going to hit it hard a lot of the time."
So now Sterling is off to the state tournament for the second consecutive season. Mellott is one of the few veterans left over from last year's state team, and couldn't be happier to be making a return trip with a new cast of characters.
"I knew we had a lot of talent going in," Mellott said, "but there were a lot of new faces. We put it together, especially the last four or five games. We've really come together."