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Prep softball: Erickson stymies hot-hitting Providence Catholic as Kaneland reaches title game

Kaneland's Emilee Erickson winds up for a pitch during Friday's state semifinal against Providence Catholic in East Peoria.
Kaneland's Emilee Erickson winds up for a pitch during Friday's state semifinal against Providence Catholic in East Peoria.

EAST PEORIA – Emilee Erickson was trying to get out of a jam in the fourth, her Knights up five against a heavy hitting Providence Catholic.

That's when the lightning alarm went off for the second time in the game, and the first when Erickson was in the circle.

About 30 minutes later, when the game resume, Erickson got a strike out and a pop up to escape the game as the Knights went on to a 8-1 win a Class 3A State Semifinal on Friday.

"It is what it is," Erickson said of the delays. "I'm out here to win this game, so I was OK with it. It was OK."

Erickson finished the game allowing just one run to the Celtics (28-12). She struck out six and walked three while scattering six hits.

"As a sophomore pitcher, it's exceptional," coach Mike Kuefler said. "Sometimes she gets into the stats and a little worried about who we're facing. But coach (pitching coach Haley Albamonte) is hand in hand with that young lady, in her ears. She's keeping her grounded and keeping her solid."

Keufler said he was impressed how well his sophomore handled unscheduled break.

"Those weather delays are the worst for any pitcher," Kuefler said. "To warm up, heat up then have to go sit back down – 10 minutes isn't going to get you warmed back up. She did a great job.

"She's beyond her age," he said.

Erickson was perfect through two innings. In the top of the third, Kaneland put up four runs in the inning, which was interrupted by the game's first delay.

Erickson said being staked to that lead was huge.

"It's just a big relief of my shoulders knowing that even if I don't do my job for some reason, I have my offense backing me up out there," Erickson said.

Kuefler said Erickson peaked ahead at the stats of the Celtics – they feature three players with at least nine home runs and a lineup full of players hitting at least .300.

She said she was just trying to trust the defense of the team – which made a number of diving catches and great plays, without committing an error.

"I always do that, and he always yells at me, but it's OK," Erickson said laughing. "This team was really talented offensively. I knew I had to be flawless."

Second baseman Donatella Somessi said she also knew how good the Celtic offense was. She said she was very impressed with her fellow sophomore.

"I am very surprised she held that offense to just one run the entire game," Somessi said. "She is on right now. This is the best I've ever seen her pitch. I'm so blessed to call her my teammate and so grateful to say we have two more seasons together."

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