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Big 1st inning sends Rockets to win over Spartans

BURLINGTON – The Sycamore softball team's chances of pulling off a big upset against Burlington Central in the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional semifinals were throttled pretty quickly on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rockets, the top seed, got six runs in the first inning on their way to a 12-0, five-inning win over the fifth-seeded Spartans, who defeated Hampshire in Monday's play-in game.

Sycamore (10-22) scattered six hits on the day.

Burlington Central (22-9) had its first six batters score runs in the first inning. The Rockets were able to get on base and score in a number of different ways, using solid hitting and speed.

They were also the beneficiary of a couple of close plays at the plate. Bekah Harnish and Becca Gerke were able to score on fielder's choices, barely beating the tag of Sycamore catcher Baylie Petit.

"That's why you slide and you create havoc, it makes it harder on the catcher. I'm sure Baylie wishes she could have those two plays back," Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter said. "When you give them extra opportunities like that, you're giving a good team a couple extra outs and they're going to make you pay for it."

The Rockets added three more runs in the second thanks to an Emily Kisch three-run homer against Sycamore starter Taylor Zak, who took the loss, and got another in the third and two more in the fourth.

Burlington Central not only hit the ball hard, the Rockets finished with three stolen bases and were able to beat out some infield singles.

"It was definitely harder, you had to get [the ball] and throw," Sycamore shortstop Tristyn Criswell said of Burlington Central's speed. "Because not many teams are like that. You can get it, take a couple steps and throw.. You know you have to get it and throw right away (against the Rockets)."

Criswell, Paige Bjork, Bobbieann Gable, Jasmyne Taylor, Brooke English and Jordyn Shultz had the hits for the Spartans.

Sycamore's best chance came in the second, with Bjork and Gable on first and second, but Zak struck out and Petit grounded out to end the threat.

Burlington Central advances to Saturday's regional championship game, where the Rockets will play the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between third-seeded Genoa-Kingston and No. 2 Kaneland.

"Last week, we had a great practice after our loss to DeKalb. We played sloppy against DeKalb, we had a great practice," Burlington Central coach Wade Maisto said. "Wednesday and Thursday, our defense was really good. When we are playing our defense like we're playing right now, we're playing a different level. And it's nice, I'm getting some good swings from different people."

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