HERSCHER — Rylie Hartman has been one of Herscher’s most clutch hitters this softball season, so when the Tigers were trailing Kankakee 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning in Herscher on Saturday, it was no surprise Hartman’s bat was the match that started an offensive wildfire for the Tigers.

Hartman barreled a three-run jack to dead center to help jump start Herscher’s offense and allow the Tigers to secure an 11-2 rivalry win.

“Hartman’s three-run homer was our kick-starter,” Tigers coach Mike Cann said. “And then we just kept it going on from there.”

After the homer, the Tigers were able to capitalize on two defensive errors by the Kays, which helped Herscher ultimately take a 5-1 lead through three innings of play after having gone scoreless for the first two innings.

“It felt good to hit that home run because I’ve been having a tough time at the plate, but I think I got it back together, and it was nice to knock in the girls that worked hard to get on base before me,” Hartman said. “I was just trying to grip it and rip it.”

Herscher’s starting pitcher, Colby McDivitt, started to settle in after having given up a lone run in the top of the first. McDivitt sat down three of the four batters she faced in the fourth before she got out of a huge, bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

After having gone cold since its opening run in the first, Kankakee managed to put some serious pressure on the Tigers in the top of the fifth. Avery Jackson led things off by reaching on an error before a bunt single by Hailey Lamie moved her to third. Emily Glogowski then drove Jackson in off an RBI single up the middle to bring Kankakee within three runs.

The Kays found themselves with the bases loaded and only one out. With three ducks on the pond, Brianna Lamie did her job by hitting a deep sacrifice fly, but, unfortunately for Kankakee, they failed to properly tag up from third, which resulted in a devastating double play to end the inning.

“That was the big momentum shift toward Herscher,” Kays coach Allie Fox said. “We had bases loaded with one out and our middle of our lineup up, so it’s one of those things where we have to be better at the little things.”

Riding high off the shift in momentum, Herscher managed to quickly add to its 5-2 lead by securing three runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings and kept the Kays scoreless down the stretch.

As for the Kays, the seemingly close game that eventually got out of hand is something Fox said has troubled the Kays at times this season

“We were with them for four innings, and then I feel like the wheels kind of fell off,” Fox said. “And that’s kind of been the story of our losses this season.”

STAT BOOK

Hartman’s three-run homer and a single led the Tigers. Alison Hassett added a double. Colby McDivitt picked up the win on the mound, allowing zero earned runs on six hits in a full seven innings of work.

Nora Mulcahy led Kankakee with two hits in three plate appearances. Glogowski added a single for an RBI, and Hailey Lamie chipped in a bunt for a hit.

UP NEXT

Herscher heads to Coal City for an Illinois Central Eight Conference matchup at 4:30 p.m. today. Kankakee returns home for a game against Crete-Monee at 4:30 p.m. today.

Cody is a sports journalist who's been with the Daily Journal since 2020. He's been a sports reporter since his days at the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2019.