Lady Spartans hitting their stride
There are many intangibles Oak Lawn coach Brian Frangella can attribute to his team’s 6-1 effort last week that lifted the Lady Spartans over .500 for the season.
But perhaps the most telling is that the 14 players who make up the roster are gaining confidence with each game.
During the week, Oak Lawn (10-9) registered victories over Queen of Peace, Hillcrest, Argo and Bloom Township before posting a 2-1 record and third-place finish at the Elgin Larkin Slugfest.
“We had a really good week, and I think it’s because the girls started believing in themselves,” Frangella said. “It’s made a difference, especially at the plate. We’ve been hitting the ball really well. We’re also getting much better at-bats.
“We’ve been talking a lot about that this season -- the girls taking control of the at-bat and swinging at their pitch and not the pitcher’s pitch. It’s making a big difference.”
The Lady Spartans opened with a 17-5 romp past the Pride on Monday, a win largely made possible by Reily McTeague, who finished with five RBI runs. Morgan Josza then drove in two to spur Oak Lawn's offense in its 13-2 conquest of Hillcrest in a South Suburban Conference crossover game two days later.
Argo presented a much tougher obstacle on Thursday, but the Lady Spartans cleared it when Kaleigh Hayes drove in the deciding run in a 7-6 triumph. On Friday, it was Marissa Loya's turn to star as she homered and totaled four RBI to lead Oak Lawn past the Lady Blazing Trojans 6-4.
At the Larkin Slugfest, the Lady Spartans opened with a 14-0 whitewash of the host school. Josza handcuffed Larkin with a two-hitter, and she got plenty of offensive support from Mia Loya and Heyden Landingham, each of whom delivered three hits and three RBI.
Mia Loya continued her hot hitting in the next game, but her two-run homer represented the full extent of Oak Lawn's attack as it suffered an 8-2 loss to Hampshire. But instead of pining over the setback, the Lady Spartans roared back to blank Elgin 5-0 as McTeague accounted for all of Oak Lawn's RBI, three of them on a homer.
Mia Loya logged the pitching win. Both Loya and McTeague were selected for the all-tournament team.
“Mia has really been doing a great job pitching,” Frangella said. “She was especially solid in the third-place game at Larkin.”
Frangella said he really liked the quality teams his club got to compete against at the Larkin event.
“That’s definitely one of the reasons why we go to this tournament every year,” he said. “We don’t get to compete against these teams too often. We did well.”
To be sure, many individuals excelled for the Lady Spartans throughout the week. McTeague registered 13 RBI, Marissa Loya had 10 to go along with a pair of homers, Landingham racked up eight hits and five RBI, Hayes batted .480 with eight runs and four stolen bases, and Josza finished with nine hits and nine runs.
“We really had a solid offensive output and we were getting players contributing in all facets of the game,” Frangella said. “Girls were stepping up in big situations [and] it was great to see. Of our 14 players on the roster, every one of them contributed at one point this [past] week.
“I knew at the beginning of the year that this was a great group of girls, and it’s even better when they’re playing well.”
Now, Oak Lawn will try to take its winning to the next level as it deals with a pair of SSC Red challenges in Richards and Shepard.
“Those were two teams that we competed well against last year,” Frangella said. “I’m interested to see how we take those challenges on. I really want to see us take that next step."
The Lady RedHawks improved to 14-3 after going 4-0 in East Suburban Catholic Conference play last week. Marist swept twinbills from Joliet Catholic Academy and Fenwick and has now won eight consecutive league contests.
Brooke Wilson and Brooke Wyderski sparked the Lady RedHawks’ 9-1 win over the Angels on Tuesday, as Wilson slammed a bases-clearing triple and Wyderski unloaded a two-run homer for Marist. Also contributing was winning pitcher Zariya Gonzalez, who struck out eight JCA batters and went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored.
Four round-trippers on Wednesday laid the groundwork for a 20-4 mashing of the Angels. Going deep for the Lady RedHawks were Alexis Rogers, Wyderski, Gonzalez and Madison Naujokas. Rogers collected three RBI on her blast and five on the day, while each of the other players belted a two-run homer.
Rogers also tallied three times for Marist, which totaled 18 hits in the romp.
Fenwick wasn’t much more of a challenge on Saturday, as it succumbed to the Lady RedHawks by scores of 10-1 and 13-3.
Offensive heroines were plentiful as Marist knocked out 27 hits over the two contests. Wilson and Wyderski both stroked three hits in the opener, with the former including another homer and a double among hers and totaling three RBI. Naujokas and Bella Wilkinson backed their teammates with two hits apiece.
Naujokas pounded out three more hits in Game 2, all of them going for extra bases. Along with her triple, two doubles and three RBI, the Lady RedHawks received a lift from Rogers (two hits, three RBI), Wilkinson (two hits) and Jillian Kenny (two hits).
In the circle, Gonzalez (eight strikeouts in Game 1) and Lizzie Annerino (four strikeouts in Game 2) pocketed the victories.
Also posting four triumphs without a loss last week were the Mighty Macs, who took down Tinley Park (5-2), De La Salle (15-0), Marian Catholic (4-0) and Loyola Academy (6-4) in succession.
Kara Bischoff swatted a two-run homer to aid Mother McAuley in its Monday conquest of the Lady Titans, while Amy Balich (3-for-4) and Morgan Fleming (2-for-4, two runs) both added solo shots. Mady Ruppert drove in the Macs’ last run with a single.
Bischoff (three runs) and Briana Gyrion (two-run double, three RBI) were McAuley’s principal figures in its rout of the Lady Meteors. Dara Sanders stopped De La Salle on two hits and struck out eight in five innings.
Holly Marousek followed Sanders’ lead by tossing a shutout on Thursday. She silenced the Lady Spartans on four hits and got offensive assistance from Balich (two-run single), Emily Rux (RBI double) and Jen Crowley (RBI double).
Rux went 3-for-3 with two RBI to fuel the Macs’ Saturday win over the Lady Ramblers. McAuley closed out the week with a 12-3 overall ledger and 7-0 mark in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference.
GCAC triumphs over Regina (7-4) and Queen of Peace (22-1) highlighted a 3-2 week for the Screeching Eagles. Mt. Assisi also took part in the Larkin Slugfest on Saturday.
Sabrina Miller belted a pair of solo homers and Molly Murphy (3-for-4, three RBI) supplied a two-run triple to lift the Eagles (5-10, 3-3) over Regina on Tuesday, while Amber Anderson was Mt. Assisi’s headliner versus the Pride on Thursday. Anderson hit a grand slam and three-run round-tripper, finishing the day with eight RBI in all.
She wasn’t alone, though, in applying a hurt to Queen of Peace (3-9, 0-5). Also enjoying good days were Miller (4-for-5, five RBI), Terri Dearth (three hits, including a homer and double, five RBI) and Jen Desparros (3-for-3).
Pitchers Kellie Tomaskovic and Dana Bunting combined on a five-hitter and struck out three Pride batters between them. Morgan Sanchez (double) and Genae Grabowski (RBI single) were Peace’s notables.
The Eagles lost their first outing at Larkin, 9-5 to Elgin, despite Miller’s two-run homer. She socked a grand slam and three-run dinger against the host school in the next game, and those were enough to give Mt. Assisi a 10-9 win.
The afternoon ended with the Eagles on the short end of a 13-5 finale versus St. Edward. Dearth (3-for-4, three RBI, two runs) missed by a single of hitting for the cycle.
The Lady Knights took three of four games last week, losing only to Immaculate Conception by a 1-0 count in a Suburban Christian Conference clash on Friday. Chicago Christian’s victories were collected against Ridgewood (6-4) on Tuesday, Timothy Christian (13-3) on Wednesday and Walther Lutheran (10-0) on Saturday.
Kaycee Pittman’s three-run double was the critical blow versus the Lady Rebels as it snapped a 3-all tie and elevated the host Lady Knights. Trisha Belgrave added a two-run homer for Christian.
Sam Kubik (3-for-4, three runs) drilled a three-run homer for the Lady Knights in their win over the Lady Trojans, while Pittman provided two hits, four runs and two RBI in the five-inning contest. Davina Gutierrez (one-hitter, 13 strikeouts; two-run double) and Belgrave (3-for-4, two-run homer) were Christian’s headliners in its triumph over the Lady Broncos.
Gutierrez was also solid in the circle against IC, as she allowed just four hits and an unearned run. However, that lone marker was enough to pin the Lady Knights (6-7, 2-3) with a defeat. Pittman (two hits, including a triple) was Christian’s offensive mainstay.
The Lady Bulldogs raised their ledger to 11-4 after racking up wins over Argo (12-2), Reavis (11-3) and Oak Park-River Forest (7-6) last week.
Hailey Czerwinski had two hits, two runs and an RBI to pace Richards in its Tuesday victory over the Lady Argonauts. Lady Bulldogs pitcher Sara Kiziak stopped Argo on five hits and struck out eight.
The Lady Rams were dispatched with similar ease in another SSC Red matchup one day later. Kiziak was the winner again as she equaled her strikeout total of the previous afternoon and held Reavis to just three hits. Sara Tobin went 5-for-6 and tallied twice to lead Richards' offense.
The triumph gave Lady Bulldogs coach Julie Folliard 600 for her career.
Emily Wetzel's two-run homer and three RBI catapulted Richards past Oak Park on Friday.
The Lady Astros ran their record to 11-5 by defeating three of four foes last week.
Suffering losses to Shepard were Evergreen Park (12-2), Eisenhower (11-3) and Morton (9-2). Tinley Park beat the Lady Astros 11-1 on Wednesday.
Alyssa DeChene's two homers and five RBI were the main ingredients in Shepard's romp past the Lady Mustangs in an SSC Red confrontation last Tuesday. Jalyn Stepney (two hits, three RBI) and Jenna Huisenga also went deep for the Lady Astros in the victory.
It was Alex Joiner's turn to clear the fence on Thursday, and her three-run round-tripper was the most telling blow in Shepard's blasting of the Lady Cardinals. Pitcher Nikki Alex provided the Lady Astros with eight strikeouts in the circle.
Sarah O'Kelly went 4-for-4 with two RBI on Shepard's behalf last Saturday, a performance that keyed its triumph over Morton.
The Lady Eagles split a pair of games last week as they topped Lincoln-Way East 3-1 in a SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue matchup on Tuesday and then wound up one run short of Plainfield Central (8-7) one day later.
Sarah Herold pitched a one-hitter and fanned 12, versus the Lady Griffins and also assisted Sandburg's offense by scoring twice. Katie Krzus, Lauren McCaughey and Briana Soltis all recorded RBI singles for the Lady Eagles.
Herold and Briana Soltis both smashed solo homers for Sandburg (9-8) in a losing cause against Plainfield.
QUEEN OF PEACE
Before losing to Mt. Assisi, the Pride slipped past Argo 8-6 last Wednesday as Jasmine Escobedo socked a three-run homer to lead the way.
Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East handed down SWSC Blue defeats to the Lady Chargers last week, doing so by respective 6-1 and 12-2 scores.
Kyla Frain slugged a solo homer for Stagg (2-8, 1-3) against the Lady Griffins last Wednesday.