In winning its first Western Big 6 softball crown, Geneseo High School brought to an end Rock Island's run of five consecutive conference titles.
When the teams met for the third time in Wednesday's Illinois Class 3A Rock Island regional semifinals, the Leafs ended another lengthy Rocky streak.
Hoping to extend their run of five straight regional titles on their home diamond at Frances Willard Field, the Rocks started fast, but ultimately could not contain the Leafs' relentless offense as Geneseo rolled 12-2 in five innings.
Rock Island (13-14) struck in the top of the first inning on a two-run Grace Vidmar home run, but after that opportunities were few and far between for the regional hosts.
"Grace gave us the early lead that we were looking for, a good early piece of hitting that we've been working on," said Rock Island coach Julie Hudnall. "But Lexi (starting pitcher Lexi Carroll) missed a couple of shots, and she knew that. They made us pay."
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The payback by Geneseo (28-8) begin with its very first batter, as lead-off hitter Jaelyn Lambin belted a towering home run to cut Rocky's 2-0 lead in half.
"I was trying to get on base and get something started," said Lambin. "That definitely brought the energy for us, and we kept tacking runs on. We found the spark, and continued to tack on like we knew we can."
Two innings after Lambin's shot, Geneseo senior pitcher Tara Bomleny helped herself with a two-out, two-run homer that put the Leafs up 3-2, a lead they would never relinquish.
"I knew she was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes," said Bomleny, "and that after she pitched her rise, she would not do it again. I knew a straight one was coming in, and I swung as hard as I could."
In addition to going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Bomleny tightened things up after Vidmar's homer. She retired 11 Rocks in a row until Maddie Carroll roped a one-out single in the top of the fifth.
That hit was followed by a walk to Chloe Turner and Ella Leahy reaching on an error to load the bases. However, Bomleny dug in and retired the next two batters to put out the fire.
"That pitch, I missed my spot a bit," she said of Vidmar's homer, "but I just had to keep them swinging at my pitches, and I got them to hit a lot of grounders."
In the bottom of the fourth, senior left fielder Sienna Frank put Geneseo up 4-2 with a one-out solo homer. Going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Frank had the first multi-home run game of her prep career with her two round-trip shots.
"I was not doing very good to start out, but I got some adjustment critiques, went up there and hit with confidence," said Frank. "All of us knew Rock Island wanted this win as much as we did, and we came in ready to play."
The Leafs then took control by sending 10 batters up to score eight times and bring the game to an end in the bottom of the fifth. A two-run Frank homer and a two-run single by Drayana DeBoef (2-for-3) were the key blows.
Up next for Geneseo is LaSalle-Peru (29-5) in Friday's 4 p.m. title game. The Cavaliers punched their ticket Tuesday by blanking Galesburg 9-0.
"We know now that each game could be our last," Bomleny said. "We have to play hard, and play for each other."
Hudnall hopes her young Rock Island club will remember this feeling and carry it into next spring.
"We told them to understand what they are feeling now," she said, "and when it comes time, to end our season on a positive note instead of the way we feel now."