It may be hard to see, but as the senior Lady Missiles held up their State Championship trophy, a rainbow appeared to the east of the field - a beautiful sign that things are as they should be. (L to R) Kelsy Hayen, Kristen Geary, Emily Bush, Kaylee Hayen, and Liz Bryant.
By Craig Lang | Prairie Advocate Sports
EAST PEORIA – Four days after capturing the DeKalb Supersectional title with a 4-1 victory over Putnam County, Milledgeville took the field at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria to face the Tigers from Illini Bluffs in the second semifinal game of the IHSA Class 1A State Tournament on Friday afternoon, May 31.
There would be no rematch with the Goreville Blackcats, who narrowly edged Milledgeville last year, as Goreville fell to Toledo Cumberland 8-4 in the day’s first match up. The skies were dark and rain seemed certain as the contest between Milledgeville and Illini Bluffs began.
In the top of the first Ally Bush grounded out to the pitcher, Taylor Grenoble grounded to short and Emily Bush drew a base on balls. Courtney Swalve flied to left to end the Milledgeville first.
As the Tigers prepared to come to bat, the skies decided to open up and the rain began to fall causing a short rain delay. When play resumed, Illini Bluff left fielder Nicole Russell opened with a base hit and advanced to third on an error by right fielder Liz Bryant. Arianna Young struck out and Jaycee Johnson grounded out back to the pitcher.
In the Lady Missile second, Morgan Adolph led off with a base hit and Kayleigh Leddy also singled. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball by Tiger catcher Jaycee Johnson. Kelsey Hayen then rapped a base hit scoring Adolph and Leddy was cut down at the plate on the throw by right fielder Young. Hayen advanced to second on the throw. Bryant then grounded out to short, advancing Hayen to third. An error by Illini Bluff first baseman Savannah Anzaldua allowed Hayen to come home with the Lady Missiles second run and Bree Henson grounded out to third to end the top of the second.
Illini Bluff shortstop Carly Scott drew a base on balls to begin the bottom of the second and Bailey Kallister followed with a bunt single. Alanni Young advanced both runners with a ground out to third. Bush then struck out Abbi Schafer before Russell drew a walk and Arianna Young flied to Henson in left to end the inning.
Lady Missile Kelsey Hayen is safe at second ahead of the tag by Illini Bluff shortstop Carly Scott during semifinal play on Friday at the EastSide Centre. Milledgeville pounded out thirteen hits to take the 10-3 win advancing them to the 1A state title game.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
Ally Bush flied to right to start the third with Grenoble following with a single. Emily Bush doubled and Milledgeville started the third with two base runners in scoring position. Jenna Bibler came in to pinch run for Bush. Swalve hit into a fielders choice with Grenoble thrown out at home by third baseman Young. Adolph followed with a two base hit scoring Swalve and Bibler. Leddy reached on a fielders choice with Adolph thrown out at third by the shortstop and the score was Milledgeville four and the Tigers one.
The Tigers third opened with a base hit by Johnson to right field. Katie Young drew a base on balls. May rapped a single to left with Johnson crossing the plate and Young thrown out at third. Scott flied out to center, Kallister drew a walk and Alanni Young struck out.
The Lady Missile fourth started with an error by the Tiger third baseman allowing Kelsey Hayen to reach. Bryant fouled out to the catcher. Henson singled to left center, scoring Hayen and advancing Henson to second on the throw. Ally Bush singled, scoring Henson and took second on the throw. Grenoble struck out swinging before Emily Bush rapped a base hit scoring Ally. Swalve singled scoring pinch runner Bibler and Adolph followed with a base hit, scoring Graff who pinch ran for Swalve. Adolph was out at third to end the inning with the Lady Missiles plating five more runs to lead 9-2.
The Tiger fourth began with a Schafer strike out. Russell rapped a two base hit to left. Arianna Young popped to Swalve before Johnson drew an intentional walk. Katie Young looked at strike three to end the fourth.
Leddy fanned to start the fifth before Kelsey Hayen laced a double to left. Bryant reached on an error by the second baseman scoring Hayen, Bryant was thrown out at second. Henson grounded out and it was Milledgeville up 10-2.
May fanned to start the Tiger fifth, Scott grounded out to Leddy and Kallister fanned. Ally Bush led off the sixth with a base hit, Grenoble grounded out and Swalve grounded out to short.
Milledgeville’s Taylor Grenoble is called out at home on a fielders choice during the third inning against Illini Bluffs.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
Alanni Young struck out to open the Tiger sixth before Schafer doubled to right field. Russell was hit by a pitch, Arianna Young popped out to Bush and Johnson grounded out to Leddy at first. Adolph fanned to begin the final inning before Leddy grounded to short. Kelsey Hayen popped to short and the Lady Missile seventh was over.
Katie Young singled to start the Tiger seventh and May popped out to Grenoble. Scott doubled, scoring Young, advanced the third on an error and was thrown out at home. Kallister flied out to Bryant in right and this game was over with the Lady Missiles taking a commanding 10-3 victory.
The championship game was set with the Lady Missiles facing the Lady Pirates from Toledo Cumberland for the Class 1A State title on Saturday afternoon at Mizuno Field.
As my publisher Tom Kocal and I made our way back to the EastSide Centre on Saturday morning, we both noticed that the skies over the Peoria area looked a bit brighter than they had a day earlier and we both hoped to have a nice day weather-wise for the final game of the season. As we arrived at Mizuno Field we noticed what a fantastic job the ground crew had done at getting the field ready and playable for the 12:30 p.m. start time. The infield was in fairly good shape after the steady rain of the day before.
Lady Missile head coach Brad Grenoble and assistant coach Drew Bush inspect the field from the top of the hill as they await a decision on whether the rain delayed game can be resumed.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
The outfield was another story altogether. Playable but very muddy. Both teams got their pre game practices in and the call was made to begin. Both coaches and captains came out to home plate and exchanged the line up cards and we were ready to get under way. The lineups were announced and it was time to play ball.
The Milledgeville Lady Missiles hoist their IHSA Class 1A State Championship trophy high after defeating Toledo Cumberland 5-4 on Saturday. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Lady Missiles were designated the home team and took the field as the Lady Pirates came to bat. Leadoff hitter Kyla Thornton flied out to left field before Audrey Case laced a base hit to right. Casey promptly stole second and Cumberland had their first runner in scoring position. Katie Poe looked at strike three for the second out with Casey thrown out at third attempting to steal.
The bottom of the opening inning started with leadoff hitter Ally Bush grounding out to short. Taylor Grenoble rapped a base hit and Emily Bush followed with a single. Bibler pinch ran for Bush. Swalve struck out before third baseman Morgan Adolph blasted a long home run over the fence in left center to give the Lady Missiles a quick 3-0 lead. Leddy sttruck out to end the first.
The Cumberland second began with a base on balls to Micah Seibert before shortstop Taylor Layton rapped a base hit up the middle. Olivia Titus doubled to left, scoring both base runners. A walk to Jasie McMechan followed and pitcher Kaylee Carlen was hit by a pitch. Ashley Greger struck out before Thornton singled scoring two runs and the Lady Pirates led 4-3. Casey fanned to end the top of the second.
Centerfielder Kelsey Hayen led off the Milledgeville second with a home run to tie the game. Bryant flied to center before Henson fanned. Ally Bush rapped a base hit to left and Taylor Grenoble grounded out to the pitcher to end the second.
Poe grounded to Adolph at third for the first out of the third inning. Seibert singled and Layton followed with a hit putting runners on first and second. Titus drew a walk to load the bases before McMeachan reached on a fielders choice with Seibert out at home, which turned out to be a key defensive play. Carlen grounded out to Emily Bush to end the top of the third.
Emily Bush fouled out to the left fielder to start the Lady Missile third. Swalve grounded out to third and Adolph rapped a base hit to left but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double.
The signs supporting the Lady Missiles were all around during the games both days in East Peoria. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Greger grounded out to the pitcher in the fourth before Thornton singled up the middle. Casey flied out to left and Poe grounded out to Adolph at third.
Kayleigh Leddy singled up the middle to start the Milledgeville fourth. Kelsey Hayen singled to put two runners on base. Henson struck out before Ally Bush laced a two base hit scoring Leddy. Hayen was thrown out at the plate and the Lady Missiles led 5-4.
The Tiger fifth inning began with a Seibert base hit to left field. Layton took a third srike and Titus fanned swinging. McMechan walked advancing Seibert to second before Carlen struck out swinging to end the top of the fifth inning.
Grenoble led off the Milledgeville fifth with a base hit and Emily Bush followed with a single, Swalve flied into a double play with Grenoble called out and pinch runner Bibler out at second caught stealing.
With the skies beginning to look darker and more like rain was coming, Paige Oakley singled to start the Tiger sixth before the storm siren sounded and play was halted. Lightning had been sighted and the entire complex was cleared. The rain began to fall and fans and players retreated to their vehicles as the rain became heavier.
It was then a waiting game as periods of heavy rain would pass and another system was close behind to prevent play from resuming. Several inches of rain fell before officials allowed players and fans access back into the diamonds and the IHSA officials and EastSide Centre grounds personnel began to assess the field to try and determine if resuming play was even possible.
The Lady Missiles celebrate on the field after defeating the Tigers from Illini Bluffs on Friday.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
After a four and a half hour wait, Milledgeville head coach Brad Grenoble called all the players and fans to the Milledgeville bus to make an announcement. Would play resume? Was the game going to be called and finished the following day?
He then made the announcement that officials had decided the field was unplayable, that it was an official game and that the Milledgeville Lady Missiles were to be crowned the IHSA Class 1A State Softball Champions. The celebration began and players, parents and fans were ecstatic with Milledgeville’s first-ever state title.
Lady Missile head coach Brad Grenoble speaks to the crowd welcoming them home on Saturday night in the gym.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
The presentations of the first and second place medallions and trophy’s were made and the procession was on back to Milledgeville for a late night celebration at Milledgeville High School. A gathering of fire trucks and ambulances met the team bus midway between Sterling and Milledgeville and the parade began. They toured Milledgeville and Chadwick before returning to the school where the players rang the victory bell and all made their way into the gym where Superintendent Tim Schurman welcomed everyone and congratulated the Lady Missiles on their monumental accomplishment.
Brad Grenoble then introduced each member of the team and spoke about them before a slide show presentation was played. The team then lined up for one more session of team photos.
Our congratulations go out to the state champion Lady Missiles for an accomplishment that gives Carroll County their third and Milledgeville’s first state championship trophy. You made us all proud and we’ll remember this season as one of the best ever! Let’s do it again next year!
(Be sure to visit www.pacc-news.com for the Milledgeville Championship Series Slideshow that begins with their Sectional victory for more photos. Also featured on line is exclusive video of the Championship game through the Victory Parade. If you would like to order reprints of any photos in the slideshow, just let us know the file number, size and quantity by calling the Prairie Advocate office at 815-493-2560, mailing to 446 S. Broad St., Lanark, IL 61046, or via email located on our CONTACT Page)
Riding the Storm Out: Milledgeville Claims State IA Softball Crown
Tom Kocal | Prairie Advocate News
Kristen Geary (#28) and teammate Shannon Graff (#38) high five their teammates as they are introduced. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
EAST PEORIA, JUNE 1, 2013 – It was a game - and a day - that everyone involved will always remember. The day the Milledgeville Lady Missiles “Finished the Dream” and won the IHSA Class 1A State Softball Championship against the Toledo-Cumberland Lady Pirates. But not until sitting through a nearly 5-hour rain and lightning delay.
The Missiles started out with a storm of their own. Taylor Grenoble singled, and Emily Bush followed with another base hit.
Standing next to the dugout when Adolph was still in the batter’s box, I heard Asst. Coach Drew Bush tell her, “She’s throwing first pitch strikes. If you see one you like, smoke it!”
With 2 outs and 2 on, junior third baseman Morgan Adolph stepped up and belted a three-run homer off of pitcher Kaylee Carlin in the bottom of the first inning for a 3-0 lead.
That’s what I call a coachable player.
“It was right down the middle,” Adolph told me. “It doesn’t get any better than that. I knew as soon as I hit it that it was going to be gone. That’s definitely the best hit I’ve ever had. It’s definitely the farthest, too. It carried a long way.”
Milledgeville is getting themselves pumped and ready in the dugout before the start of Saturday afternoon’s state title game.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
But Cumberland bounced right back in the next frame. Olivia Titus hit a two-run double and Kyla Thornton’s two-run single gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
In their half of the 2nd inning, Milledgeville had a surprise in store for Cumberland as Kelsey Hayen hit a leadoff solo home run to knot the game at 4 apiece.
Kelsey is a .386 hitter, but is certainly not known as a home run hitter. She only had one round-tripper this year.
After a rough start, senior standout pitcher Emily Bush settled down, and the Milledgeville defense came up with some great plays and held the Lady Pirates scoreless for the next 2 innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior first baseman Kayleigh Leddy singled up the middle. Kelsey Hayen singled to left field. A good start, especially considering that the clouds were looking ominous, and were spitting a little rain.
But Carland buckled down, striking out senior right-fielder Liz Bryant and sophomore left-fielder Breyana Henson.
Freshman shortstop Ally Bush stepped up and hit a two-out RBI double that proved to be the last run the Lady Missiles would need, taking a 5-4 lead into the fifth inning.
Cumberland left 2 on in their half of the 5th, and some mis-cues on the base paths resulted in Milledgeville coming away empty in the bottom of the frame.
A sweet swing. Lady Missile Morgan Adolph follows through after blasting a long three run home run during the first inning of Saturday’s contest. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Bush and the Lady Missiles faced one batter in the 6th before the rain and lightning came, forcing the two teams and their fans to sit through nearly five hours of the rain delay.
The state championship game, which started just a bit before 1 p.m., was halted at 2:45.
Shortly after, the skies cleared for almost 45 minutes, but the IHSA has a safety rule that prevents play for 30 minutes after a lightning warning. It is a good rule, but frustrated the players and fans. Even if they could have played, the infield tarp was full of puddles. The grounds crew was busy pumping rain water off the tarp and out of the dugouts.
Just as things were looking good for a chance to complete the game, an IHSA official came out to the gate where all the fans were anxiously waiting for the announcement. But his news was not good. A second, more powerful storm system was fast approaching.
We could see the storm front in the west, but all hoped that it would skirt north of the field and spare us more delay. It was not meant to be. The storm doused the entire Peoria area with nearly an inch of rain within 30 minutes. That was at 4:45.
At 7:45, Prairie Advocate Sports Dude Craig Lang and I were sitting at a picnic table near the concession stand when Coach Grenoble walked by, telling the girls to head to the bus. Fans passed the word around, and within 10 minutes, everyone was gathered around the Cheeseman Coach. It seemed as though a starting time for the game was going to be announced.
“It’s not really what we wanted,” Grenoble said with a poker face fit for Las Vegas. “We waited around a long time, but it’s an official game. We are the champions.”
Morgan Adolph is congratulated by head coach Brad Grenoble as she rounds third after belting a long homer.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
The crowd erupted in cheers, and the girls’ emotions came flowing out. It was a tense day for all, but no one can know what it must have been like for the girls from Milledgeville and Cumberland.
No one wanted to see this great match-up decided anywhere other than on the field. But officials and groundskeepers said it was just too much for the saturated outfield to handle, and the safety of the girls was a major consideration.
IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha said that after taking the tarp off the infield and examining the outfield several times, it was determined the game could not be resumed.
“There’s 3-4 inches of standing water in certain areas,” said Troha. “You could literally kick water a good 10 feet in some of the spots there. Ultimately, that’s what led to the decision.”
Because five innings had been played, it was ruled an official game and Milledgeville was declared the state champion.
Troha said they decided to move the 2A tournament finals to Sunday. He also said that no one could recall a state tourney in any sport being played on Sunday.
“Going into this weekend we knew we were up against it with the weather. We did reach out to our Board of Directors and asked them for permission, in the event something like this occurred, if we could have permission to play on Sunday. Ultimately, both the Board and all the schools agreed to play on Sunday.”
Coach Grenoble knows the game. He always told the girls to “get out to an early lead, because you never know what can happen.” They did, but fell behind, came back to tie it, then along with some great defense, scrapped for what turned out to be the winning run. “You never know what can happen.”
Lady Missile catcher Courtney Swalve calms starting pitcher Emily Bush after a rocky start. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
It was also a memorable season for two senior twin sisters on the Milledgeville team, Kelsey and Kaylee Hayen. Kelsey said, “It’s pretty special to be able to share a moment like this with my sister. She wasn’t here on the team with me last year so it’s nice to be able to celebrate and have her there on the field with me.”
Kaylee agreed. “I loved having her with me. We are each others number one fans and sharing this moment has been incredible. Practicing, playing, and winning along side her has made it all the merrier.”
The sportsmanship observed on Saturday, notably from the Toledo-Cumberland softball team, parents and fans (who bore the brunt of the IHSA decision) was remarkable. Tears, yes. Hard feelings, no.
From the time we left Carroll County Saturday morning until we got back to Milledgeville for the parade covered 15 hours. It was a State Championship that no one will ever forget. Congratulations to one of the hardest working, dedicated group of young women we have ever seen take the field. The Lady Missiles are the Pride of the Chadwick-Milledgeville School District, and Northwest Illinois.
How about the pride of the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference, too? The conference comprises small public high schools, and one small private school, with enrollments between 75-500 students in Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties! The Lady Missiles are the first to bring home a State Championship in Softball.
All season, the Lady Missiles would huddle up before and after their games, and repeat a cheer, a mantra, with a message that would prove to be almost prophetic:
“Nothing is easy. Everything is a challenge. Through adversity, Through pain, To the last inning, To the last out, To the last pitch, To the last play, We fight, We fight, We fight, We fight, We fight, We fight, We win, YEAH!”
If you would like to order reprints of any photos in the slideshow, just let us know the file number, size and quantity by calling the Prairie Advocate office at 815-493-2560, mailing to 446 S. Broad St., Lanark, IL 61046, or via email located on our CONTACT Page
Morgan Adolph applies a late tag to a Tiger base runner at third. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Right: Toledo Cumberland’s Micah Seibert is out at home as Milledgeville’s catcher Courtney Swalve applied the tag. This proved to be a key defensive effort. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Lady Missile shortstop Ally Bush gets ready to put the tag on Cumberland’s Ashley Greger.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
Lady Missile shortstop Ally Bush watches the ball after she makes contact. Her double scored the eventual game-winning run.
(PA photo/Craig Lang)
Emily Bush rings the bell behind Milledgeville High School after the teams arrival back in Milledgeville Saturday night. Go to www.pacc-news.com for exclusive video and the Championship series slideshow for more photos. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
Left: Lady Missile center fielder Kelsey Hayen is all smiles as she rounds third after belting a leadoff solo home run in the Milledgeville second inning. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
As IHSA and EastSide Centre personnel inspect the field, it’s apparent from all the water in the foreground that much work would have to be done to get the field playable again after heavy rains fell.
(PA photo/Tom Kocal)
The IHSA Class 1A softball state champion Milledgeville Lady Missiles pose with their medallions and trophy. (PA photo/Craig Lang)
The Lady Missiles posed for one final team picture back in Milledgeville after winning the state championship. (L to R front) Seniors Kelsey Hayen, Kristen Geary, Emily Bush, Kaylee Hayen, and Liz Bryant. Back row, Manager Bry Flynn, Jenna Bibler, Breyana Henson, Taylor Grenoble, Kayleigh Leddy, Shannon Graf, Allyson Bush, Morgan Adolph, and Courtney Swalve. (PA photo/Craig Lang)