Trolls softball most improved in league
The goal all along for Trinity Christian College’s softball team was simple: finish in the top six and make the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
Achieving it, however, wasn’t easy. The Trolls didn’t assure themselves of a playoff berth until the final game of the conference schedule, when they hung on for a 4-3 victory over the University of St. Francis to lock up fifth place with an 11-9 league record.
The tourney begins today, with Trinity (23-23 overall) expected to face St. Xavier University (42-5-1) in the opener on the Cougars’ field. The championship game is Saturday, with the winner advancing to the NAIA Tournament.
Just getting to the postseason is a big plus for the Trolls, who had won no more than 12 games in any of the past four seasons, which included last year’s 12-32 mark. Nearly doubling that total this year, and coming up only one short of it in conference play alone, marks Trinity as the most improved team in the conference and may earn coach Missy Bolhuis postseason plaudits.
The road to the conference tournament reached the finish line last Thursday at the Route 83 Complex. The Trolls led 4-1, half of the offense coming from Bailan Reynolds’ two-RBI double in the bottom of the third, before USF mounted a two-out rally in the top of the seventh.
Kiley Southall singled and scored when older sister Lexi doubled her home. Then Natalie Ward singled to bring in Lexi Southall, closing the gap to 4-3. The threat to Trinity’s success and its postseason berth ended when the Fighting Saints’ Tori Johnson made the final out.
Reynolds led the Trolls’ attack with three RBI, adding to her team’s lead with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Kaleigh Velasquez’s RBI single in the sixth, which scored Mattie McGuire, proved to be the winning blow among Trinity’s 11 hits, while Brianna Brugioni picked up the victory on the mound by scattering 10 hits.
The Trolls preceded the victory with a 3-0 loss to the Saints and followed it by beating Lindenwood-Belleville 3-1 and 5-1 in their final home games of the season. Trinity also dropped a pair to Wheaton College, 1-0 and 3-0, as the locals were held to five hits in the opener and a single safety in the nightcap.
• The Numbers (through regular season): 23-23 overall, 11-9 CCAC, 11-7 home, 4-9 road, 8-7 neutral. Leaders: Samantha Radunz, .444, .611 slugging percentage; Jayme Love, 55 hits; Love, Bailin Reynolds 19 RBI; Anna Phillips, 9 steals; Tori Grzincic, 3 HR; Brianna Brugioni, 9 wins, 78 strikeouts, 1.94 ERA; Mattie McGuire, 2 saves; Brugioni, McGuire, 11 complete games each.
• Schedule: Today, in CCAC Championship.
The battle for a playoff spot brightened for the Trolls, thanks to a 6-1 record in conference play last week. That raised their record to 15-10, third-best in the CCAC, entering this past Tuesday’s season-ending doubleheader against sub-.500 Trinity International University.
The Trolls are 13-3 — 10-3 in conference play — since April 10, when they were 10-15 and 5-7 entering a nonconference twinbill with Ashford University. Sweeping those games triggered the big run that climaxed on Saturday with 16-5 and 6-1 routs of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
Trinity Christian had dropped the series opener at Olivet by a 10-0 margin in eight innings, but its offense was on full display when the action shifted to Palos Heights. Game 1 of the doubleheader featured slugging by Mark Munizzi (4-for-5, four RBI), Joe McCaw (3-for-4, four RBI) and Danny Britt (3-for-6), with Jimmy Hinkleman grabbing the win by pitching into the sixth inning.
The Trolls picked up five of their six runs in the sixth inning of the nightcap, Peter Krygsheld’s double knocking in two of them in the course of his 3-for-5 day. Vince Van Schouwen picked up the victory.
Wednesday’s sweep of Cardinal Stritch University by identical 8-2 scores started with Britt’s three-run homer in the first inning. Two more runs came on Steve Brewer’s single in the sixth. Bob Wilmsen went the distance for the victory, scattering seven hits.
Brewer and J.T. Yocum accounted for three RBI in the first inning of Game 2, Trinity adding another on a McCaw sacrifice bunt in the second. McCaw doubled to knock in one more run in the fourth, after which Britt homered to make it 7-0 and give Benny Collesano plenty of cushion en route to the complete-game win on the hill.
Earlier in the week, the Trolls trounced Purdue University Calumet 10-3, with a five-run fifth inning being the key. The day’s second game was rained out.
• The Numbers (through Saturday): 23-18 overall, 15-10 CCAC, 10-7 home, 8-7 road, 5-4 neutral. Leaders: Joe McCaw, .389, 56 hits, .590 slugging percentage, 41 RBI, 4 HR; Lance Lammers, McCaw, 11 steals each; Danny Britt, Benny Collesano, Drew Chibe, 4 wins each; Vince Flores, 2.70 ERA; Brad Kopale, 3 saves; Chibe, 41 strikeouts.
• Schedule: TBA.
TRACK & FIELD
The Trolls are running at a high clip entering this weekend’s CCAC Championship at Olivet Nazarene.
Andy Reidsma added another NAIA qualifying number to his resume by running 10,000 meters in 29 minutes, 51.58 seconds at last weekend’s Hillsdale College Relays. The time, which broke Trinity’s existing record in the event by almost 90 seconds, was good for fourth place in the race. Matt Schaap’s 17.34 in the 110-meter high hurdles also set a school mark.
The women’s 1,600-relay team, anchored by Courtney Kalous, set a Trolls standard with its 4:04.99 clocking. The leadoff runner for that quartet, Ashley Jourdan won the 1,500 in 4:43.20.
• Scoring leaders (through April 16): Logan Vos, 75, Aug. 30, Sept. 20; Jonathan Zandstra, 76, Sept. 21, April 12; Spencer TenHaken, 77, April 11; Scott Ebbeling, 78, Aug. 31; Tim Hoeksema, 79, Aug. 31; Brian Deckinga, 79, April 16.