EAST PEORIA — The game wasn't the one St. Joseph-Ogden wanted to play, but the outcome was just fine.
"We wanted to be in the championship game, but this was like our championship game," senior Stephanie Canfield said, "and I wanted to win our last game."
EAST PEORIA — The smiles were forced, not genuine.
The outcome, for the second day in a row, was not what Tuscola High School's softball team wanted.
And yet, in the minutes after a 4-1 loss to Milledgeville in the Class 1A third-place game at EastSide Centre on Saturday, seniors started to realize the magnitude of their season's accomplishments.
EAST PEORIA — Today is unlike any since March 13 for St. Joseph-Ogden.
For the first time, the softball Spartans will take the field following a loss.
The state's top-ranked Class 2A team stumbled in Friday's sectional semifinals against Nashville, 5-2. SJ-O catcher Mickaela Fleming and center fielder Stephanie Canfield expect the Spartans to rebound quickly.
EAST PEORIA — Caught looking.
Some would say St. Joseph-Ogden's unbeaten and top-ranked softball team was looking ahead.
Whether that speculation is accurate, there's no doubt the Spartans spent too much time looking at the pitches thrown by Nashville freshman Maci Ingram.
EAST PEORIA — Kelsey Cleland would like a replay. The Tuscola infielder would welcome a softball rematch with Payson Seymour.
Instead, Cleland and the Warriors will return to action today against Milledgeville in the third-place game at the Class 1A tournament.
EAST PEORIA — Gone.
The ball. The dream. Tuscola's state championship aspirations in softball.
Still remaining for the Warriors: a chance to close out their season with a win and collect the all-time school record for wins in a season.
Athletes of the Week
Recently: Staff ace passed the 200-strikeout mark for the season, helping the Eagles win a regional championship with complete-game efforts against Centennial and Mahomet-Seymour. During the team's stretch run, her ERA is about 1.00.
Teams of the Week
Eagles (19-18) trailed 2-0 after one inning and 5-2 going into the seventh against a Mahomet-Seymour team they had traded regular season wins against. Jada Walker, Kalista Lutes, Sarah Hunt and Grace Bjornbak scored in the late-game comeback that produced a Class 3A regional title.
Three area teams are Final Four-bound, including two from Tuscola.
A closer look at the group, courtesy prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner:
Noon Friday vs. Lena-Winslow
at O'Brien Field, Peoria
Eight from area in Shrine game
BLOOMINGTON — The 37-player East roster for the annual Shrine all-star high school football game features eight former area athletes.