YORKVILLE – Emilee Erickson has already closed games for Kaneland.
Apparently, she can finish what she starts, too.
The Knights' little freshman lefty was big Thursday. Erickson went the distance on a three-hitter, striking out eight, and Kaneland scratched across a run in the seventh to edge host Yorkville 2-1 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.
Erickson, making her first conference start, retired the last 15 batters she faced. She was nearly flawless after allowing two singles to start the game and a first-inning run.
"We've been really careful in the situations we've put her in just to build her confidence," Kaneland coach Mike Kuefler said. "She's thrown real well for us the last several weeks coming in a closing situation. We felt she earned the start. We're excited about her as a freshman."
The winds swirled throughout, but Erickson was hardly fazed. In fact, it might have helped her screwball darting down and away to right-handed batters.
"The wind was helping it a little bit, pushing it out," Erickson said.
"She's not a real tall kid," Kuefler said, "but she can spin it."
Kaneland (12-5-1 overall, 5-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) tied it 1-1 in the third inning on Morgan Weber's solo homer to left.
Lauren Callahan reached on an error to lead off the top of the seventh, and with one out Weber and Donny Sommesi both singled with two strikes to load the bases. Lexi Abruzzo brought in the go-ahead run with a groundout.
It's Kaneland's second one-run win over Yorkville (11-6, 2-3), both wins coming on the Knights' last at-bat.
"Of course we'd like to bat the ball over the place, but these are the games that are going to help us down the road when we get to the tournament," Kuefler said.
Erickson closed out the first win against Yorkville, 6-5 in eight innings. Kuefler debated bringing in Aly Jesionowski in the seventh Thursday. Erickson rewarded his faith. She allowed two baserunners in each of the first three innings, but was perfect from there on.
"I got used to the way she called strikes as the game wore on," Erickson said. "I feel like I settled in."