EAST PEORIA -- When the Alleman softball team needed a spark on Saturday afternoon, it rode a Ferrari.|
Down a run in the fifth inning, junior second baseman Lexi Ferrari used her wheels to provide a tide-turning hit. Her leadoff, inside-the-park home run set the stage for a three-run inning that helped the Pioneers secure a 9-3 win over Teutopolis in the Class 2A state championship game at the EastSide Centre.
"Since we were tied, I knew we could come back," Ferrari said. "We've always been behind (in the postseason), and we always come back. I didn't have any doubt."
With Ferrari up in a key spot, neither did Alleman.
"She's come up big," Alleman senior left fielder Anna Wetherell said. "Big hits."
Four hits in seven at-bats is what Ferrari did in the state tournament, but her fifth-inning lined shot to right field carried the most clout. As the Pioneers trailed 3-2 in the bottom half of the frame, Ferrari sent a shot to right field that bounced in front of diving Chelsey Hardiek near the foul line.
The ball hit the turf, then rolled deep into the corner.
Using her legs to provide the horsepower, Ferrari rounded second and headed for third before Teutopolis could recover. As she neared third base, Alleman coach Mike Ebner waved her home.
"I was starting to cramp up, I was waving so hard': said Ebner. "I thought I was dying. But that was awesome."
Once Ferrari slid safely into home, the Pioneers had tied the game.
"I feel proud of myself that I actually helped my team out," Ferrari said. "I did what I needed to do to get us where we are now."
Three batters later, the Pioneers' grabbed a 5-3 lead after Mackenzie Sanchez's two-run home run over the left-center field wall. With the score still 5-3 in the sixth, Ferrari added insurance with a two-run double to center field.
"She's hit all year, then struggled a little bit," Ebner said. "To come out of it, I'm so happy for her. She's just worked and worked and worked."
The key shot, though, was the inside-the-park home run.
"We were going crazy," Wetherell said. "When she hit it, it didn't look like that was going to happen. Lexi was determined. We were cheering her on. Seeing that happen gave us motivation."
Ferrari did not have to wait to join the celebration. Seconds after she made contact, she stood in the dugout with her teammates.
"I was just running," Ferrari said. "I wanted to get as far as I could so we could score some runs."
Alleman never trailed after Ferrari's inside-the-parker.
"So many games, so many people have come up big for us," Wetherell said. "I couldn't pick a better person to come up big."
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