Softball: Conger sisters lead Warren to sectional title over Loyola
Warren's Conger Nation was at its best on Saturday.
Sophomore Hannah Conger twice singled home her senior sister Hailey for Warren's only two runs in an intense 2-1 triumph over Loyola (18-7) in the championship game of the Class 4A Glenbrook North softball sectional.
"They're amazing (the Congers)," said Blue Devils junior pitcher Sydney Jackson, who has had some amazing games herself, just like Saturday when she held the Rambers to 4 hits with 10 strikeouts just two days after tossing a perfect game against Waukegan.
The Blue Devils (24-7) will face Barrington (32-5) in the Fillies' supersectional at 7 p.m. Monday.
"We call them Conger Nation and they're great kids," said Warren coach Jenna Charbonneau. "They work super hard on and off the field. That's kind of been their M.O."
It was hardly the first time shortstop Hannah, the No. 3 hitter in the batting order, had singled home her sister, the leadoff batter who plays first base.
But it sure was the two biggest times.
It happened first in the bottom of the fourth when Hailey led off with a walk.
Josie Leibfried's sacrifice bunt got Hailey to second base before Hannah ripped a single to right for the 1-0 lead.
Hailey went to second on the throw but Loyola ace MacKenzie Barry struck out the next two batters.
Barry struck out the first seven batters she faced and finished with 17, one shy of her career high.
The Ramblers tied it in the fifth after freshman catcher Emilia Bartholomew lined a single to right center, went to third on Lily Moran's base hit to the same spot and scored on Barry's single to center.
The Blue Devils won it in the bottom of the eighth after Barry struck out the first two batters.
Hailey Conger doubled to left center. Leibfried was hit by a pitch and Hannah Conger provided the walk-off single to center to drive in her sister for the second time.
"I knew as soon as she stepped up to the plate we were going to win," said Hailey. "And 100% those were her two biggest RBI as they put us over the edge. They were huge. We've played together in 10-and-under team and two years in high school. This is probably our last year playing together (Hailey is off to play at Butler) but it's been a blast."
Hannah (2-for-4) ended up as the game's only player with 2 hits.
"I was just making sure the moment wasn't too big," Hannah said. "I just wanted to hit the ball and bring her in. I've always wanted to play with my sister and have these big moments."
None were bigger than Saturday, giving the Blue Devils their fifth supersectional and first since 2017.
"We haven't won one for awhile so I'm really proud of the girls," Charbonneau said. "The goal all the time was to stay in the fight to the end and the girls did that. Hannah came up big twice. Our No. 2 hitter Liebfried) did her job both times (sacrifice bunt and hit by a pitch) and she has been great in that spot all season. So it's great to see those kids come up and kind of what's expected of them and have it all work out."
And Jackson made it work on the mound.
"I just kept throwing and having a lot of confidence in my defense," said Jackson, who has a career-high of 16 strikeouts. "I knew I just had to throw strikes and my teammates behind me would take care of the rest."
Designated player Sophie Furniss and catcher Allie Badgley had back-to-back, two-out singles in the bottom of the seventh but Barry got out of it with a strikeout.
Barry, who will play at Northern Illinois, finished at 9-9 for the season, striking out 52 batters in her last three games.
"I wanted to win for my team more than myself," she said. "I wanted to get them as far as I could and give everything I had for them. I will always remember all the friendships I've had with my teammates."
"It was an awesome game," said Loyola coach Leah Herlocker. "It was equal parts painful and exciting. We had a couple of nice innings where we got runners on base.
"I'm really excited about this team. We are losing some key players but we're going to be back. We're not done. We'll be back, same time next year."