Not even a debilitating sinus infection could deter Anthony Wayne pitcher Dani Haley and the resilient Generals yesterday.
Haley struck out 12 batters and Anthony Wayne rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to knock off a hard charging Springfield team 5-2.
The Generals (22-3, 10-2 Northern Lakes League) can clinch the title with a win over Northview tomorrow.
Haley helped her own cause with a single and three walks that led to two runs.
"I got a sinus infection Saturday. I rolled around in bed all day yesterday. I called off work because I knew I had a big game today," Haley said. "It actually motivated me more because I knew I had to compensate for my sickness."
Junior Jamie Westenkirchner came up with two big singles and drove in three runs.
The Blue Devils had pulled within one game of the Generals by finishing off AW in the completion of a rainout game that was made up before yesterday's contest.
The game had been suspended in the seventh inning by rain last Monday with Springfield up by three. Blue Devils pitcher Ashyln Michalak got three outs to secure an 8-5 win.
Springfield also showed resilience in the second game by coming back with a two-run sixth inning to tie it.
"It was here for the taking and we did not do our job," Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz said. "We knew it would be a battle. It's like this every time we play them. It's tooth and nail. They got the big hit and we didn't."
Michalak struck out seven but Springfield (16-6) fell to 8-4 in the NLL.
The Generals scored two in the sixth and three in the seventh as Melissa Sigg and Nicole Del Monte had RBI singles.
"We were ready," AW coach Carolyn Vogtsberger said. "We've been preparing ever since that game got rained out. All we've been focused on was getting this done."
With a chilly, steady breeze blowing in from center the game was scoreless through five innings as each team managed just one hit.
The Generals broke through with two runs on two hits in the sixth. Following a leadoff walk by Sigg, Haley singled up the middle.
After a sacrifice bunt and another walk, Westenkirchner hit a hard ground single between first and second to plate two.
The Blue Devils answered right back tying it with two runs on two hits in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Emily Rockman, who had singled, scored on a throwing error. Cailyn Cordrey then singled up the middle to score Krista Haley to tie it at 2.
AW took the lead for good with three runs on four hits in the seventh. Kristen Ramer hustled to beat a throw to first on a dribbler to lead off. Ramer scored on Sigg's single up the middle.
Del Monte and Westenkirchner then came up with back-to-back RBI singles with two outs for a 5-2 AW lead.
"[Westenkirchner] is locked in," Vogtsberger said. "She's hitting the ball hard."
Springfield had two runners on in the seventh, but Haley finished it with a strikeout.
"This is what you get from Dani every day. I hope people understand how good she is," Vogtsberger said. "She had a sinus infection and she's a trooper. She's determined."
In the fourth, both teams made great defensive plays to end threats.
Anthony Wayne is ranked 10th in the state's Division I poll. But Haley said the team is focused on winning the NLL title tomorrow.
"We can't get comfortable just being a good team," she said. "We have to keep that ambition and drive."
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