Lady Eagles ride the roller coaster
In a 35-game softball season, almost every team can expect to experience a roller-coaster ride somewhere along the way.
It was Sandburg’s turn to hop aboard last week, as both highs and lows were included in the mix. On the plus side was an 8-3 SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue win over Homewood-Flossmoor last Wednesday, a success made possible through the batting heroics of Sarah Herold and Emily Griskell.
Both Lady Eagles peppered H-F with three hits and the duo was also responsible for half of Sandburg’s runs. Herold scored two of them herself, while Griskell drove in a pair.
Seven of the Lady Eagles’ runs were generated in two-out situations, beginning in the third inning when the locals plated four markers. A Lady Vikings error gave Sandburg some juice, and Griskell and Lauren McCaughey soon collected RBI.
Karli McLaughlin added another RBI a bit later and H-F provided further assistance with more shaky fielding, which led to two more runs.
That was more than enough scoring support for Griskell, who earned the pitching victory after throwing the first 4 1/3 innings. Herold mopped up, and the two hurlers finished the day with a combined 12 strikeouts.
“It was a nice way to start our conference season,” Lady Eagles coach Jim Fabianski said. “Homewood-Flossmoor is a team that we should beat [and] we’ve beaten quite a few times [in recent years].
“We’re still experimenting and figuring things out and still moving people around, [but] the girls played pretty well. We have a good bunch of kids.”
Fabianski praised the work of his pitching tandem and also complimented Herold’s contributions, in particular, on the offensive side.
“It’s good to see her busting out,” he said. “She has a lot of talent, energy and enthusiasm.”
But the positive momentum from that victory couldn’t be carried over by Sandburg into Saturday. Instead, New Trier defeated the Lady Eagles in both ends of a nonconference doubleheader, 5-3 and 7-4.
Herold went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in Game 1 and also held the Lady Trevians to five hits while going the distance in the circle. That might have been a recipe for success had Sandburg been a little sharper on defense.
And while the Lady Eagles cleaned up their act a bit in the second game, they encountered another source of frustration: free passes. New Trier received a fair number of them, which it used to ignite its attack.
“You can’t win if you’re not going to score a lot of runs and make costly errors, like we did,” Fabianski said. “All the errors in the first game cost us. The walks in the second game also cost us.”
Fabianski described Herold’s route-going pitching performance as the “one positive that I’m taking away from Saturday.”
Madeline Hanley stroked a two-run single for Sandburg in Game 2, and Fabianski also liked what he saw from freshman Samantha Coffel throughout the day. Coffel, who had been playing for the Lady Eagles sophomore squad, slugged a homer in her second varsity at-bat in Game 1 and banged an RBI double off the fence in Game 2.
“I’m very happy about Samantha’s performance,” Fabianski said. “It’s nice to have a young player shake things up and also get the first-stringers fired up.
“Maybe she can handle it on the varsity level. We’ll see by the end of [this next] week.”
Another performer of note on Saturday was McCaughey, who had a two-RBI hit versus the Lady Trevians.
“It’s the third or fourth time that Lauren’s done that — deliver an RBI single in a key position,” Fabianski said. “She’s beginning to be that type of person who we can count on.”
Griskell, Caroline Kuzel and Maddie Poole shared the pitching duties in the second contest.
The Lady Astros improved to 8-4 with three wins last week: 11-0 over Hillcrest on Wednesday, and 9-7 and 11-4 over Kankakee in a Saturday doubleheader.
Nikki Alex pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts to propel Shepard in its South Suburban Conference crossover contest against the Lady Hawks, and she also slammed a two-run homer to aid the Lady Astros’ offense. Shepard’s big gun at the plate was Breanna Graffeo, who went 4-for-4 with a double, five RBI and two runs.
The Lady Astros scored nine of their runs over the first three innings, a surge that was highlighted by Graffeo’s three-run single in the second. Alex unloaded her homer as part of a five-run third frame.
Pitcher Stephanie Brand scattered eight hits and was backed by clutch hitting from Skylor Hilger (3-for-4, two RBI) and Heather O’Kelly (two-run double) in Game 1 versus the Lady Kays. Hilger (two RBI) was at it again in the second game, and she received solid support from Melissa Kelly (3-for-3, two RBI) and Jalyn Stepney (two RBI).
Kelly and Alex shared the pitching chores and combined to scatter eight hits as Shepard completed its sweep.
The Lady Bulldogs split a pair of games last week, with the victory coming by a lopsided 17-0 margin over SSC Red rival Eisenhower on Wednesday. Tinley Park edged Richards 1-0 on Saturday in a conference crossover affair.
Emily Wetzel’s 5-for-5 day keyed the Lady Bulldogs’ rout of the Lady Cardinals. She augmented her hits with two RBI and three runs. Kaitlyn Fechko added two runs for Richards in the five-inning contest.
Jordan Battles and Abby Gentile contributed two hits apiece for the Lady Bulldogs (8-4, 7-2) in their loss to the Lady Titans.
The Lady RedHawks had no trouble overpowering St. Viator in an East Suburban Catholic Conference doubleheader on Saturday. Marist defeated the Lady Lions 11-0 and 13-0, with both contests lasting just five innings.
Brooke Wyderski was the Lady RedHawks’ ringleader in Game 1 as she homered twice and finished 4-for-4 with six RBI and four runs. Jill Kenny stepped forward in the second game, providing Marist (10-3-1, 2-0) with a 3-for-3 performance that also included three RBI.
Garnering the pitching triumphs for the Lady RedHawks were Zariya Gonzalez and Lizzie Annerino. Gonzalez fired a one-hitter in the opener.
Behind solid pitching and hitting, the Mighty Macs recorded a 9-6 victory over St. Ignatius in a Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Red encounter last Wednesday.
Dara Sanders was a one-player wrecking crew for Mother McAuley (7-3, 4-0) as she fanned 11 Lady Wolfpack batters and also went 3-for-4 at the plate with a solo homer and three RBI. Alex Brown (two hits) and Morgan Fleming socked three-run and two-run round-trippers, respectively, to bolster the Macs’ attack further.
QUEEN OF PEACE
Reavis and Morton both pinned defeats on the Pride last week, doing so by respective scores of 15-3 and 5-1.
Kayla Rybolt was a bright spot for Queen of Peace (2-7). She collected two hits and scored twice on Wednesday versus the Lady Rams, then drove in the Pride’s lone run with a single on Saturday.
Lemont blanked the Lady Spartans 10-0 in five innings in an SSC crossover game last Wednesday.
The Lady Chargers went 1-1 in a pair of SWSC Blue contests last week. Stagg beat Joliet Central 3-2 on Wednesday and lost to 15-0 Joliet West one day later.