NEW LENOX – Even though it’s still a fairly young rivalry between the New Lenox schools in Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210, Friday’s SouthWest Suburban Conference Red Division softball game between Lincoln-Way West and Lincoln-Way Central had all of the signs that it could be another memorable contest between the two schools.
While the game no doubt had its exciting moments, with the Warriors using a three-run third inning to go up 5-3 and the host Knights responding with a four-run fifth to move in front for good at 8-5, there also was a stark reality that set in during Central’s 10-5 victory over West, which was overshadowed by a very serious injury during the game.
With two outs in the bottom of the third and West up 5-4, Warriors third baseman Sydney Swanberg collided with her catcher in foul territory on a pop up. Swanberg immediately fell to the ground and appeared to suffer a serious injury. Paramedics were called to the field and she had to be placed on a stretcher so that she could receive medical attention.
Clearly that injury shifted the entire focus of the game, which already was being played in cold and windy conditions. The Warriors (5-6, 0-1) managed no runs on one hit and struck out eight times during the final frames, while the Knights (10-2, 2-0) got four runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to win their fourth in a row and sixth in their last seven games.
Central Coach Jeff Tarala’s Knights received a big boost from Amanda Weyh, who got the victory after allowing no earned runs and one hit while striking out nine in 41⁄3 innings of relief.
Leading Central were Carly Alvers (3-for-4, two RBIs, two runs, home run), Ashley Platek (3-for-3, two RBIs, home run), Gianna Niemeier (2-for-4, three RBIs, two runs, home run), Gabriella Gedville (2-for-4, two runs), Torince Muczynski (2-for-4) and Weyh (home run). West Coach Heather Novak’s Warriors were paced by Molly Ryan (2-for-4), Sarah Taheny (2-for-4) and Hannah Pfeifer (home run).
Friday’s matchup with West was the start of an important 12-game stretch for the Knights, who will host 10 of those contests. The Warriors also will be at home frequently in their next 12 games, with eight of them being played at their campus.
On May 2, West hosts Central in the second game of the series. And the Illinois High School Athletic Association recently announced its Class 4A softball assignments and the Knights and Warriors will compete in the Thornwood Sectional, where they both will host regional tournaments, along with Lockport and Minooka.