Blue Devils win first postseason game since 2012, ride confidence into regional title tilt


Quincy High School junior pitcher Carlee Gilker tossed a three-hit shutout Wednesday as the Blue Devils beat Collinsville 11-0 in the semifinals of the Class 4A Belleville East Regional in Belleville, Ill. | Matt Schuckman photo

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The confidence the Quincy High School softball team carried into the postseason enabled the Blue Devils to do something Wednesday night that hadn’t happened in a dozen years.

It also affords them the chance to accomplish something that hasn’t happened since the Illinois High School Association went to the four-class system at the start of the 2007-08 school year.

Carlee Gilker threw a three-hit shutout, three different players drove in two or more runs and fourth-seeded Quincy eliminated seventh-seeded Collinsville 11-0 in five innings in the semifinals of the Class 4A Belleville East Regional.

It is the Blue Devils’ first postseason victory since beating Alton 3-2 in the regional semifinals at home in 2012.

“We worked really hard this season, and if any team is going to make it further, it’s going to be us,” Gilker said. “We didn’t want to take (Collinsville) lightly. But we knew this was a game we had a very high chance to win. And we were ready. We came in strong.”

The Blue Devils (18-15) will face top-seeded Belleville East (24-10) at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the regional championship. Quincy has not won a regional title or even two games in the same postseason since 2007.

“We’re going to go to practice on Thursday and do what we’ve been doing to get ready,” Gilker said. “We’re confident and we keep working hard.”

The Blue Devils keep making plays, too.

After the Kahoks’ Rafalowski led off the game with a single, Collinsville’s Fairchild flew out to Quincy left fielder Kayden Smith, who caught Rafalowski straying too far off first base and threw a strike to first baseman Aurora Allison for a double play.

“I love to see it,” Gilker said. “It helps me out so much to know I have a defense behind me.”

The Blue Devils gave Gilker the lead in the bottom of the frame. Ivy Winter led off with a walk, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Ariana Adorno’s fly ball to center field. Quincy added three runs in the second inning as Kendyl Byquist delivered a two-run single with one out and Winter followed with an RBI single.

Quincy scored twice in the third on Kate Mettemeyer’s two-run single and plated five more runs in the fourth, highlighted by Avary Hlubek’s two-run triple and RBI singles from Paige Kurfman and Mettemeyer.

“Everyone went up swinging,” Gilker said. “We were there to score runs.”

She was there to shut the Kahoks down. Gilker allowed three hits and no walks while striking out eight. She retired 10 batters in a row at one stretch.

“Everything was working,” Gilker said. “I was hitting corners and pitches were working.”

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