Carlese Franklin displays all-around ability for VooDoo _lowres

Advocate staff photo by A.J. SISCO -- Mount Carmel pitcher Shelby Wickersham will be a key figure as the Cubs go into the state softball playoffs as a No. 2 seed in Class 5A.

Through five innings, pitchers Sam Wickersham of Mount Carmel and Karli Perque of Cabrini gave up a combined four hits, one walk and zero runs.

In the top of the sixth, though, Mount Carmel (21-3) changed things. Sam Dares singled to shallow right and Kaleigh Foto beat out a throw to first on bunt, snowballing into a five-run inning to defeat Cabrini 5-0 on the road Wednesday night.

“Sam (Dares) comes up, gets a base hit. Kaleigh lays down the bunt down, and we went from there,” Cubs coach Jake Pierron said.

“The hits started piling up as well as the runs. We had a few opportunities early. We had bases loaded early, but we weren’t able to capitalize. We finally found a way, and the girls came through.”

Especially Abbi Alonzo. With two base runners on, the right-handed hitter smacked a two-RBI liner to left field that broke the scoreless deadlock in the sixth inning.

“Before I stepped to the plate, I asked a couple of my teammates what they were seeing,” Alonzo said.

“They said she was throwing a bit inside, and advised me to back a little off the plate to give myself a chance to swing and use quick hands. Without my teammates telling me how to adjust, I wouldn’t have been able to get a piece off the ball with such confidence.”

The Cubs followed Alonzo’s lead, piling up three more runs that inning, which sealed it. Jena Lafrance smashed a hard grounder that dribbled through the legs of Cabrini’s second baseman to cushion Mount Carmel to four runs. Alaina Guarino capped the inning with an RBI single to center field.

“That happens often with this team,” Alonzo said. “One person will get a hit, start us off and it becomes contagious. Everyone follows the lead, getting hits and scoring some runs. One hit is all it takes with this team.”

Wickersham allowed two hits in the seventh inning, but finished Cabrini (8-9) by forcing two groundouts as she registered a four-hitter. She also tallied two strikeouts.

Before the sixth-inning explosion, Perque struck out three and surrendered two hits and a walk. With the basesloaded, she snatched a grounder to quell the danger.

“I do think both pitchers did very well on the mound,” Cabrini coach Shannon Austin said. “We know they’re a very good team, and they’ve been playing extremely well this season. They were just able to piece together the hits when they needed, and we kind of helped them along with some of the plays that inning. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from a team like that.”