In a regional matchup in Wheeling on Wednesday, the Evanston Wildkits defeated Taft 9-4 and advanced to the regional championship game.
Allie Managlia pitched an almost unheard of eighth consecutive double digit strikeout game to lead the Kits to victory.
In the top of the first, Managlia shut the Eagles down, despite a double by Lety Rosales.
The Kits wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as they score three runs in their half of the first inning. Allie Nortz and Caroline Duke both got on base to start the game. Emily Mathyer then ripped a line drive toward right field, but was robbed on a nice play by the second baseman.
Freshman Izzy Bergman was batting in the cleanup spot for her first ever high school regional game. Bergman stepped to the plate and hit the first pitch she saw to the 220 foot homerun fence to score Nortz from second and Duke from first.
The Kits would never lose the lead the remainder of the game. An additional run was scored as Emma Maxwell and Jenna Ehrensaft loaded the bases for Caitlin Boer, who took a full count walk to bring in a run.
Managlia started off the top of the second by striking out the first two hitters. Once again, with two outs, the Eagles doubled. However, the next Eagles batter attempted to bunt and catcher Emily Mathyer was quick to catch it before it could hit the ground to end the first half of the inning.
The Kits reached first and second in the bottom of the second inning on hits by Mathyer and Bergman, but were unable to bring in any runs. In the top of the third, the Eagles' Katie Pargo singled, but Managlia left no question as to whether they would score, striking out the side and stranding her at first base. The bottom of the third was quiet for the Kits.
The heart of the Eagles' lineup came back to bat in the top of the fourth inning. Gabby Mejia and Amber Colon singled to start the inning. The next batter bunted and Maddie Reiches made a nice play to get her out at first, but the runners advanced to second and third. Managlia struck out the next batter on three pitches.
With two outs, a full count, and runners on second and third, Eagle pitcher Kath Meersman doubled to right field to make it a one run game. Shortstop Caroline Duke made a nice play to end the inning and preserve the Kits' lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, after a flyout to right field, Allie Nortz reached first base safely on a ball hit in the infield. The next batter made an out, and the Kits had a runner on second and two outs.
At that point, the Kits went on a hitting spree. Emily Mathyer doubled to score Nortz from second base. Bergman then beat out an infield single to give the Kits runners at first and second. Junior captain Maddie Reiches then singled to centerfield to score Mathyer from second.
Freshman Emma Maxwell followed suit by doubling to bring in Bergman. Senior captain Jenna Ehrensaft singled. After a hit batter, pitcher Allie Managlia worked an 11 pitch at bat before walking to bring in the 5th run of the inning and give the Kits an 8-2 lead.
The Kits shut down the top of the Eagles' lineup on nice plays by Maddie Reiches at third and Allie Nortz in center.
The top of the fifth didn't involve a lot of runners, but did manage to bring in one more run for the Kits. Junior captain Caroline Duke doubled off the wall to start the inning. Emily Mathyer then moved her over to third, and Maddie Reiches brought her in.
Managlia remained strong in the sixth as she struck out the first two batters of the inning. Maddie Reiches made a play on a high hopping ground ball to end the inning. The Kits did not score in the bottom of the sixth.
The Eagles made it interesting in the top of the seventh. However, the hitting that the Wildkits had done earlier in the game gave them enough breathing room that they didn't need to worry.
Managlia started the inning with a strikeout. Duke then made a nice play to catch a popup behind third base. With two outs, the Eagles showed that they weren't going to go down without a fight. A walk and a single put runners at first and second, before a double brought in both runs.
The Kits knew they just needed one more out to launch themselves to the regional championship game. In dramatic fashion, Managlia struck out the Eagles' cleanup hitter to end the game.
The Kits will play on Saturday at 11am at Wheeling high school against Glenbrook North for the regional title.