Lane bats silenced in 4-1 softball city championship loss to Young


Alex Burstein

Lane and Young do a handshake line following the CPL softball city title game.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

The plan for Whitney Young softball entering Monday’s city championship bout with Lane relied heavily on their ace, Shelby Jacobson.

With a 0.22 ERA and an 11-0 record, Jacobson’s dominance has become a sort of expectation for the Dolphins this year.

“We know Shelby’s going to kind of go hard with the strikeouts,” Whitney Young Head Coach Mike Hinrichs said.

And in the most important game of the year thus far for the Dolphins, that’s exactly what she did.

In a complete game effort, Jacobson put up 19 strikeouts, walking one, as Lane (18-4) scored just one run in a 4-1 loss to Young (21-0) in the city championship game at UIC’s Flames Field.

“We’re getting very spoiled with [Jacobson],” Hinrichs said. “We’re getting used to her putting up performances like that. She’s spectacular.”

It was a classic pitcher’s battle, with Lane’s Kailey Hancock, along with a strong defense, keeping Young off the scoreboard for all but two innings.

While Jacobson dazzled on the mound, Lane’s defense was able to limit the Young offense, keeping Lane in the game.

The Dolphins came up with 12 hits, compared to just two for Lane, but Lane did a good job managing runners once they got on base. Young would strand at least one runner on base each of the first five innings.

The persistent Young offense couldn’t be kept off the board entirely though. The Dolphins struck first, with two runs in the bottom of the second inning, after a pair of line drives to center and left field from designated player Gigi Martinez and second baseman Kate Coonan.

Lane’s defense stayed strong though, keeping Young silent until the bottom of the fifth.

“I think [Hancock] did a great job of just keeping them off guard, mixing it up a little bit and then just making sure we’re communicating on defense,” Lane Head Coach Samantha Nikolich said postgame.

While Lane’s defense did their job, the offense continued to struggle against a high strike zone and constant risers from Jacobson.

“Today she was high, so we wanted to move, adjust in the box and lay off pitches that were way out of the zone,” Nikolich said. 

Lane did what they could to adjust to the pitching, but Jacobson proved to be too much.

Both offenses remained stagnant until the bottom of the fifth, with a pair of doubles from right fielder Nyan Allen and first baseman Katie Reznar driving in two insurance runs for the Dolphins. 

“Whenever you get those insurance runs, it helps the pitcher and catcher relax a little bit,” Hinrichs said. “It lets the defense know that not every play is do or die, that they have some mobility. We talked in our preparation for this game and said we needed to score four runs.”

After hitting the four run mark, the Dolphins defense would cool down for the first time all day, giving up a run to Lane in the top of the sixth after an arching double to left field from Giselle Moreno scored Avery Tassone. Moreno would reach third after an error on the cutoff throw.

The comeback would be too little too late though, with Young closing the door defensively in the sixth and seventh.

The win gave Young a second victory over Lane this season, following a 6-0 regular season win. But with state playoffs just around the corner and the two teams both in the Maine South sectional, the rivals may have one more go at each other this season.

“I think [this loss] gives them something to fight for because this is not the end and not getting that final win for city can kind of help push them for state,” Nikolich said. “Because that is the ultimate goal and especially the fact that we may see Whitney again.”

After winning the city title, Hinrichs has set the bar high for the Dolphins’ state run.

“I think that we are strong enough and deep enough to be the first Chicago Public School team to ever go downstate,” Hinrichs said.

Young and Lane will be the #1 and #2 seeds respectively in the Maine South 4A sectional, with brackets expected to be released later this week.