May 3, 2017
Record-Setting Win Pushes Pioneers into Region IV Semifinals
CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. --- In the three short seasons that Frank Wilkins has piloted the Prairie State College softball team, his teams have owned their fair share of outstanding accomplishments, with PSC’s first ever conference championship and two top-five nationally-ranked lineups, to name just a few.
His 2017 squad achieved another Wednesday afternoon.
The current Pioneers, by way of knocking off Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference counterpart Morton in NJCAA Region IV Quarterfinal action, made their mark on program history.
By downing the Panthers by final counts of 13-1 and 13-4 (each in five innings) PSC earned its 29th win of the season, thus surpassing the previous school record of 28 victories, set in 2012.
“The players get all the credit for this,” Wilkins said. “I always say ‘Players win games and coaches lose them,’ and this group has done their share of winning this season for sure.
“Our players earned this record the hard way. We took thousands of practice swings, drop steps and groundballs and each one of those repetitions was necessary in order to achieve this mark.”
With the pair of triumphs, Prairie State pushed its record to 28-14 overall.
The Pioneers will now face a yet-to-be-determined opponent in semifinal action on Saturday at Yorkville H.S. This is the second straight year that PSC has advanced beyond quarterfinal action.
Prairie State pounded out 27 hits over the course of the two games. The Pioneers jumped ahead 5-0 in the first inning of Game 1 thanks in part to a pair of RBI singles off the bats of freshman catcher Morgan Charters (Lowell H.S., Ind.), (2-for-3, 3 runs, RBI) and sophomore first baseman Emily Foley (South Wilmington H.S.) (3-for-3, 3 RBI, 2 runs) along with a two-run safety from sophomore second baseman Jessica Boyd (Reed-Custer H.S.), (1-for-2, 2 RBI).
Leading 7-0, after three innings, PSC finished Morton off with a six-run fourth, highlighted by RBI singles from Foley and sophomore pinch hitter Olivia Valdez (Bolingbrook H.S.).
Freshman pitcher Sarah Kessler (T.F. South H.S.) moved to 14-4 overall, courtesy of a six-hit, seven-strikeout, showing which produced no walks.
Morton struck first in Game 2, taking a 1-0, first-inning lead.
That advantage didn’t last long however, as the Pioneers plated a quartet of tallies in the home half of the frame thanks in part to a two-run single by freshman third baseman Sydney Harrison (T.F. South H.S.), (3-for-3, 3 RBI, 3 runs) and a run-scoring base hit from Kessler.
PSC played long ball in a five-run second as Foley and freshman right fielder Monica Rangel (Bloom H.S.) (3-for-3, 2 RBI) each crushed two-run home runs to left.
Sophomore hurler Alexandra Pauls (Andrew H.S.) moved to 6-1 on the slate following a five-hit, four-run (three earned) effort that produced a trio of strikeouts and no walks.
April 29, 2017
Pioneers Roll Into Postseason With Strong Weekend Showing
CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. --- Heading into the postseason with a full head of steam and a few wins stacked behind it is without question the preference of any team, no matter what the sport.
The Prairie State College softball team seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time, following a trio of wins over the course of this past weekend.
The Pioneers (27-14) pulled off a double-header sweep of NJCAA Region IV foe Triton Friday afternoon by final counts of 8-0 and 6-3 before blasting region counterpart Joliet 12-2 in the season finale on Saturday.
PSC will now face Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference opponent Morton Wednesday in a best-of-three region quarterfinal series in Chicago Heights (1 p.m.).
April 14, 2017
Pioneers Take Two from Arch Rival
CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. --- The Prairie State College softball team finds itself just one victory shy of its third straight 20-plus-win season Friday afternoon after besting Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference foe Moraine Valley in a league doubleheader at the Pioneer Sports and Recreation Park.
PSC (19-9, 6-2) took the twin bill by final counts of 8-0 and 6-3.
As has been the case all throughout 2017, PSC offense came ready to shine, pounding out 28 hits in the two contests.
PSC jumped out early in Game 1 plating four runs to effectively put the contest out of reach.
The big frame was highlighted by a two-run single off the bat of freshman left fielder Kate Johnstone (Wilmington H.S.).
In all, seven Pioneers posted multiple-hit contests as freshman center fielder Hayley Fletcher (Marist H.S.), freshman catcher Morgan Charters (Griffith H.S.), sophomore first baseman Emily Foley (South Wilmington H.S.), freshman pitcher Sarah Kessler (T.F. South H.S.), freshman right fielder Monica Rangel (Bloom H.S.), sophomore second baseman Jessica Boyd (Reed-Custer H.S.) and left fielder Kate Johnstone (Wilmington H.S.), (3 RBI) all achieved the feat.
Kessler starred in the circle in the opener, working five innings, en route to a four-hit, four-strikeout effort.
Rangel proved to be the lone Pioneer in Game 2 to collect multiple-hit contests, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Sophomore hurler Alexandra Pauls (Andrew H.S.) took the ball in the nightcap and performed well, going the distance will surrendering three runs ( none of which were earned) on four hits, while striking out three.
March 28, 2017
League Power Waubonsee Downs PSC at Home
CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. --- Year in and year out, when it comes to consistent winning amongst Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference softball programs, Waubonsee is typically the leader of the pack.
However, the defending Skyway champion Prairie State College softball team knew this full-well heading into its league matchup against the Chiefs at the Pioneer Sports and Recreation Park Tuesday.
Unfortunately, Waubonsee escaped Chicago Heights with a hard-fought doubleheader sweep of the Pioneers.
PSC dropped both contests by way of a 6-3 and 9-3 final count.
With the setbacks, Prairie State’s record moved to 9-9 overall and 0-2 in Skyway action.
PSC struggled defensively in Game 1, committing a season-high seven errors.
Those miscues made a tough-luck loser out of freshman pitcher Sarah Kessler (T.F. South H.S.).
Kessler, the ace of the Pioneers’ pitching staff, turned in a strong outing in the opener, going the distance allowing six runs (all unearned) on six hits while walking just two and fanning seven.
Prairie State was only able to scratch out four hits in Game 1 as freshman center fielder Hayley Fletcher (Marist H.S.), sophomore first baseman Emily Foley (South-Wilmington H.S.), sophomore second baseman Jessica Boyd (Reed-Custer H.S.) and left fielder Kate Johnstone (Wilmington H.S.) proved to be the lone Pioneers to collect safeties.
PSC grabbed an early lead in the opener when Fletcher scored on Foley’s first-inning RBI single to right-center.
The Pioneers plated their other tallies in the fourth, courtesy of run-scoring base hits off the bats of Boyd and Johnstone.
A six-run opening frame in Game 2 put PSC behind the eight ball early, but the Pioneers put up a strong fight nonetheless.
Prairie State played airtight defense this time while swinging its way to the tune of an 11-hit attack.
Three Pioneers registered multiple-hit showings in Game 2 as Fletcher recorded a 3-for-4 outing, which included a fifth-inning RBI-single.
Freshman catcher Morgan Charters (Lowell H.S., Ind.), (2-for-4, RBI) and Foley (2-for-4, run, double) also achieved the feat.
Fletcher’s run-scoring hit broke what was a 7-0 shutout.
Sophomore first baseman Olivia Valdez (Romeoville H.S.) plated a tally with a ringing double in the sixth before Charters drove home freshman shortstop Sidney Hero (Griffith H.S., Ind.) in the seventh.
PSC will see action next on Thursday when it hosts league foe McHenry (3 p.m.).
March 24, 2017
Harrison’s Walk-Off Bomb Helps Propel PSC to Twin Bill Sweep of Rival
CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. --- Trailing 8-6 with two out in the seventh inning of the second game of a doubleheader against local rival South Suburban, the rallying cry in the Prairie State College softball dugout was “Party after two!”
Freshman third baseman Sydney Harrison (T.F. South H.S.) made sure that there was one.
Harrison’s three-run opposite field walk-off home run set off a wild celebration at home plate as the Pioneers downed the Bulldogs 9-8 to complete the twin bill sweep.
PSC also claimed the opener by a 10-3 final count.
Harrison’s bomb was her second of the afternoon.
With the wins, Prairie State bumped its season record to 9-7 overall.
The Pioneers, who sport one of the most explosive offenses in all of NJCAA Region IV, displayed their lineup’s capability in Game 1, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to plate all 10 of its tallies in an impressive third frame.
The big frame was highlighted by another opposite-field, three-run homer off the bat of Harrison which caromed off the scoreboard.
Harrison swung her way to a 6-for-8 effort with six RBI and three runs on the afternoon.
Two-run singles by freshman shortstop Sidney Hero (Griffith H.S., Ind.) and freshman center fielder Hayley Fletcher (Marist H.S.) also contributed to the big inning.
Hero went 2-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases, runs and RBIs while Fletcher also went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run and in Game 1.
Sophomore second baseman Jessica Boyd (Reed-Custer H.S.) also collected two hits as did freshman left fielder Kate Johnstone (Wilmington H.S.).
Freshman pitcher Sarah Kessler (T.F. South H.S.) went the distance from the circle, allowing two earned runs while striking out six.
Trailing 3-0 in the second inning of the nightcap, PSC knotted the contest thanks to an RBI double by Kessler, run-scoring single by freshman right fielder Monica Rangel (Bloom H.S.) and sacrifice fly off the bat of Boyd.
The Bulldogs would tally a pair of runs in the third and three more in the sixth before Harrison’s heroics would settle the afternoon.
The Pioneers will hit the field next on Saturday when they travel to Joliet for a road tilt with the Wolves (Noon).