EAST PEORIA – The Sterling Golden Warriors picked up win No. 31 on Saturday with their 4-0 victory over St. Ignatius.
That ties the school record for wins in a season with the 2012 team. But the team record was hardly the lone record-book note from Saturday.
Sterling freshman Lexy Staples picked up six strikeouts to give her a record 181 for the season.
She tied the record with a strikeout of Elyse Wisniewski in the top of the seventh.
She got ahead of No. 9 hitter Keleigh O’Neill, and then had a couple close pitches called for balls before recording the record-breaking K with only one more out remaining in the game.
“There were some really close calls today,” Staples said. “He was a good umpire, but I was getting nervous I wasn’t going to get there. After each strikeout, I just told myself I needed five more, four more, three more…”
The previous record was 180, set by Liz Cook in 2004.
Karlie Mellott climbed up the IHSA career-hits list with her double in the first. The hit gave her 225, moving her into a tie for 12th with Nashville’s Shaye Harre (2010-13), according to IHSA.org.
Other notable names on that list are Alexis Silkwood of Alton Marquette, who played Sterling last year in the state semifinal. Silkwood is sixth with 243.
Sitting at No. 20 is Eastland’s Sarah Martz (1997-2000) with 214.
Happy anniversary: Sterling coach Becki Edmondson knows what it is like to pitch as a freshman in the state tournament.
Edmondson pitched Farmington to the Class A state title as a freshman 25 years ago. Farmington beat Casey Westfield 2-1 in 1989.
Edmondson went on to lead the team to the title again in 1991, and was the Peoria Journal Star’s Player of the Year in 1992.
Pretty slick:There was maybe one play that brought more smiles to the Warriors’ faces than the final out to clinch the third-place trophy.
In the fifth inning, Jen Fialkowski rolled a grounder up the middle with a runner on first.
Shortstop Karlie Mellott ranged over and fielded the ball, and flipped it toward second base.
Gabby Sandoval was waiting on the bag, and decided to barehand the toss before firing to first to complete a 6-4-3 twin-killing.
“All I could do was laugh after that play,” Mellott said. “Gabby barehands it like that in practice all of the time, but she doesn’t do it too much in games. Whenever she does, we just smile. She’s such a great defender, and she’s my partner out there in the middle of the infield. I am really going to miss playing next to her.”
Web gem: Sterling outfielders Emily McDonald and Shannon Long made a couple web gems during Friday’s semifinal loss to Manteno.
On Saturday, St. Ignatius’ Tess Russell won that honor, and it came at McDonald’s expense.
In the sixth inning, McDonald ripped a pitch from Maura Lynch to left field. The ball was a liner that seemed ticketed for the fence.
Instead, Russell dove and extended barely far enough to rob McDonald of a sure double and an RBI.
The Sterling crowd even gave Russell an ovation.
“That was a fabulous play,” Edmondson said. “Emily has been slumping a little bit, and it was great to see her make such solid contact. But the outfielder just made a great play.”