EAST PEORIA – Manteno’s Kierstynn Kinast connected with a Cheyenne Harrington pitch to lead off the sixth inning.
That’s when the usual finally happened. Karlie Mellott ranged over at short, dove to stop the ball, and threw to first in time for the out.
Over the last four seasons, Mellott has made the improbable look routine.
Before that play, the field at EastSide Centre had turned routine into impossible for Mellott.
After a rare throwing error in the second inning that allowed a run to score, Mellott was pressed often by hard hits and goofy hops.
Later in the inning, Kiley Zajdzinski scorched one to shortstop. It bounced up and hit Mellott in the chest.
In the third inning, Cheyenne Koehne drilled one up the middle. Mellott ranged over, but the ball took a short-hop in front of her and bounced into center.
“There were just weird bounces out there,” Mellott said. “It might have been a little faster than usual. We just had to make some adjustments on defense.”
Cannons in the outfield: While it’s hard to ignore the five errors that cost Sterling in Friday’s semifinal, the Warriors balanced that with a couple huge plays in the outfield.
After a leadoff home run, the Panthers were threatening in the first inning against Lexy Staples.
Zajdzinski reached on an error, and moved to second on a walk to Sammy Beckwith.
Brooke Stulga appeared to be extending the lead with a liner down the left-field line, but Sterling’s Emily McDonald ranged over and made a diving catch.
She stood up, and then threw Zajdzinski out at third base.
“We have some great outfielders,” Edmondson said. “That’s what makes today tough. We made a few uncharacteristic mistakes around some great plays.”
In the fourth inning, the Warriors stopped another rally when Shannon Long made a catch in short center, and threw Leegan Boudreau out at the plate trying to tag.
Weird ruling: In the fourth inning, Lauren Fritz came to the plate with Mellott standing on third.
Fritz hit a grounder to first, and for some reason, didn’t run. Instead, she stood in the basepath on the first-base side near the plate.
The play went home, but Mellott beat it to score.
After some debate among the umpires, Fritz was called for interference and ruled out. Mellott returned to third base.
Mellott scored on a triple by Abri Hale moments later.
Bats be gone: Assistant coach Ed Long spent time during warmups talking to athletic director Greg King, who was doing color commentary for WSDR.
Long said the team had a bat used during infield warmups confiscated by the umpires because it had a crack in it.
Long said the umpires would keep the bat until the conclusion of the tournament.
A few minutes later, an umpire left the Manteno dugout with another bat in hand.
Up next: Sterling will play St. Ignatius Prep on Saturday in the third-place game.
It is the second year in a row the Warriors will play for third. Sterling lost 5-4 to Tinley Park last year.
“Last year, it was our first time down here, and we didn’t know what to expect,” senior Darien Bardoner said. “I think we lost the first game, and didn’t recover from that real well.
“This year, we want to be one of two teams that end their season with a win.”
St. Ignatius lost 7-3 to Chatham Glenwood. Four costly errors by the Wolfpack led to five unearned runs.