Many teams start the season with hopes of winning a state championship. These Raiders started 2012 with one goal: playing on Saturday, June 9, in the biggest game of their lives.
The Raiders made their fourth visit to East Peoria in five years this weekend. After in the semi-final game Friday. The team came ready to play Saturday as they faced last year’s 3A champion, Marengo High School. Ultimately, the Raiders came home with a state championship, beating the defending state champs 2-1.
This was a very different game from Friday, as both teams exhibited tough pitching and a stingy defense that shut down many scoring opportunities for both teams.
The Raiders scored the first run in the fourth inning. Danielle Chitkowski started the inning off with a single to get the Raiders rolling. After a fly out, Olivia Ramirez singled and advanced to second on the throw to third.
After another fly out, Hannah Taylor entered the batter’s box with two outs and two runners in scoring position. Taylor, who drove in two key runs in Friday’s game, battled with the Marengo pitcher, fouling off strike after strike. Finally, getting a pitch to her liking, Taylor drove a single into center field, scoring both Chitkowski and Ramirez – the only runs the Raiders would get (and need) Saturday afternoon.
Raider pitching kept the Indians off balance the whole game. Danielle and Stephanie Chitkowski threw a combined three hitter and allowed just one run. The combination of using both pitchers each game has been a staple of Coach Fonda’s strategy this year garnering a 36-4 record.
With every last game, even one where you win the state championship, there is also some sadness as some players finish up their Raider careers. Seven seniors have been instrumental in the success of the Raiders these last few years, and their abilities, dedication, and most of all, their enthusiasm will be hard to replace. Best wishes to Rachel Cohen, Olivia Ramirez, Brianna Meath, Lisa Bartha, Taryn Andros, Hannah Davey and Danielle Chitkowski. At least when they leave , they can say they played on the best team in the state of Illinois.