Wauconda’s Lesleigh Reimers is drawing inspiration from her grandfather Bill this season.
The junior right-hander wears a bracelet in his honor.
“I’m really close with my grandfather,” Reimers said. “He has cancer, and he’s fighting really hard. I’m super proud of him, but also know my team has my back and are in this fight with me and him. They are my family. My grandfather has always supported me.”
Reimers showed her toughness during a Class 3A Carmel Sectional semifinal on Wednesday, scattering three hits over seven innings to lead third-seeded Wauconda to a 7-1 victory against the second-seeded Corsairs in Mundelein.
Reimers’ effort against Carmel’s potent offense ensures the Bulldogs (27-9) get another shot at top-seeded Antioch (31-1), their Northern Lake County Conference rival, in the sectional championship game at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The Sequoits, who prevailed in both regular-season meetings, ended Wauconda’s postseason in each of the past two years and won the third-place game last June.
“Lesleigh let her defense do the work today, and our outfield is one of the best in the area,” Wauconda coach Tim Orisek said. “Not a lot of people expected us to be here, but we did because we knew how good we are. It’s going to be a dogfight with Antioch. Hopefully, the third time is the charm for us.”
Grace Brown’s homer in the bottom of the fourth inning produced the only run the Corsairs (23-6) could muster against Reimers, who improved to 16-4.
Wauconda left fielder Bella Antonucci, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning, made a brilliant running grab to stop an extra-base hit in the sixth inning, and right fielder Alyssa Vodicka, who hit a solo home run during the Bulldogs’ three-run seventh inning, made a leaping catch in the fifth.
“They did a great job, and their bats were on fire today,” Carmel coach Kelli Layton said. “Their outfield made a lot of tremendous plays. I’m really proud of how our team came together, and we went further than we have in past years. We showed a lot of fight.”
Reimers displayed pinpoint control, moving the ball in and around the strike zone throughout the game, while striking out seven and walking one. She lowered her ERA to 2.23 and has 145 strikeouts and just 19 walks this season.
Reimers, who said she pitched one of her best games on Wednesday, gave credit to senior catcher Savannah Powers, a Monmouth commit.
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“I pitched good, and my movement was really working,” Reimers said. “I knew that would be a key. I knew it had to be on for this game. Having Savannah catching me helped me. My team had my back and played great defense.”
Powers also backed Reimers with a hit and an RBI.
“This was such a big win,” Powers said. “(Lesleigh) had really good movement today. She had good velocity, and she was determined to keep going through every single pitch, even when times got hard. I’m so proud of her. She did such a good job.”
Orisek said Reimers has become a reliable pitcher with hard work and determination.
“She’s a competitor,” Orisek said. “She’s one of the better pitchers in the area. We have a really good one. When she’s hot, we ride her.
“Today was one of the better games she’s pitched. She continues to get better as the season goes on.”
Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.