Astros continue to soar in softball
Whether it was accomplished by seasoned seniors or newcomer underclassmen, the Shepard girls’ softball team continued its winning ways last week and improved its season record to 15-6.
The Lady Astros went 4-1: defeating Argo on two separate days, Mt. Assisi and Oak Lawn — with their only setback coming against Andrew.
“It was a nice week for us,” Shepard head coach Kelsey Clifford said. “We were able to get some more conference wins in there. Obviously, because of the weather, we’re still in conference play.”
On May 5, Shepard started the week with a 9-6 victory over Argo, racking up 11 hits in the process and taking advantage of eight stranded Argo base runners. The Astros went up for good in the fifth, scoring five runs on three singles.
Kaitlyn Blanton, a sophomore and recent addition to the varsity team, reached base three times in the game, driving in a run and scoring a run. She singled in the fourth and seventh innings.
Stephanie Brand got the win, despite allowing six runs over seven innings. She struck out five, walked one, and surrendered 12 hits. She also went 2-for-4 with three RBI.
On May 6, Shepard defeated Mt. Assisi 8-7, as Bryanna Cross’ three-run homer keyed the visitors. Jenna Huisenga and Alyssa DeChene tacked on solo shots for the Astros. Melissa Kelly (4-4) took the win on the mound.
Huisenga is just a freshman who has been on the varsity squad for only two weeks, and DeChene played on the Varsity baseball the squad for the past two seasons.
“Alyssa has been a really a solid player for us,” she said. “She’s so disciplined and humble and has helped us a lot. Jenna just joined us two weeks ago after our starting center fielder got hurt. We shifted the lineup, and she’s been solid for us.”
After suffering a 6-2 setback against Andrew on Wednesday, the Astros rebounded with a 7-2 win over Argo in the South Suburban Red on Thursday.
Against Argo, Blanton ripped a two-run triple to aid host Shepard. Breanna Graffeo (2-for-4) tacked on two runs and two RBI for the Astros.
Melissa Kelly (5-4) struck out eight, pitching a complete game for the winners. Stephanie Brand had two extra base hits, doubling in third and sixth innings.
Graffeo, Kelly, Brand and Blanton combined for seven hits and six RBIs against Argo. The Astros never trailed after scoring five runs in the third on an RBI double by Brand, two singles, and a two-run triple by Kaitlyn Blanton.
Shepard finished the week with a 3-2 win over Oak Lawn in nine innings — and the most impressive part was the pitching performance by Brand. She pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts and also went 4-for-5 from the plate.
Graffeo provided a walk off single to secure the Astros win.
“The game that Stephanie pitched on Saturday was the best game I’ve ever actually seen her throw,” Clifford said. “She’s pitched four years for Shepard, and was lights out Saturday morning. She had a very good day; she was on fire.”
Clifford said she especially pleased with the team’s ability to adjust and grow — especially with one freshman and five sophomores as starters.
“When you have such a young team, you do have a lot of adjusting,” she said. “You have to get the younger girls into the Varisty routine. As the season as gone on, we’ve gained confidence with the younger kids. They’re really coming around.”
And the Astros will need to continuing coming around in big games this week against Richards, Evergreen Park, Reavis and Joliet West.
“We play three really good teams,” she said. “We’ll also find out this week the team we’ll play in the state tournament.”
The Bulldogs went 3-1 last week — defeating Evergreen Park 6-4 on May 5, Eisenhower 11-1 last Thursday and Riverside Brookfield 11-0 before losing to Marengo 7-4 on Saturday.
In the win over Evergreen Park, Lauryn McManus (2-for-3) had two RBI and Jordan Battles added a solo homer to elevate visiting Richards in the South Suburban Red.
Against Eisenhower, Emily Wetzel and Andrea Stengle hit home runs to ignite host Richards (15-5, 13-2) in the five-inning South Suburban Red game on Thursday.
In the win over Riverside-Brookfield, Sara Tobin hit a grand slam, and Sara Kiziak (12-3) hurled a three-hitter to carry host Richards (16-5) in the five-inning game on Friday.
On Saturday, the contest against Marengo was also a fund raiser – the second Pink and Gray Fight like a Bulldog to fight breast and brain cancer. At the event, two deceased Bulldogs — Christa (Carbray) Johnson and Abby Wujcik – were honored.
Despite the setback on the field, Richards is still 16-6, and the community came together for a good cause.
“A lot members of the Richards community and beyond come out for the event,” Richards head coach Julie Folliard said. “It’s a special fundraising event.”
The RedHawks battled Mt. Greenwood rival Mother McAuley in another classic neighborhood battle and came away with a thrilling 3-2 victory in ten innings last Wednesday.
Marist (15-6-1) got things rolling in the tenth on a Brooke Wilson double. She was sacrificed to third by Bella Wilkinson, and then Gonzalez hit a roller to shortstop Amy Balich. Balich made the play and fired a throw to the plate, but catcher Alex Brown was unable to hold on to the ball.
Marist’s Zariya Gonzalez won out in a pitchers’ duel, allowing seven hits while striking out three. The RedHawks grabbed an early 1-0 when Madison Naujokas scored on an RBI groundout by Wilson. McAuley would rally for two runs to set up seventh-inning heroics.
McAuley starting pitcher Emily Marousek, made a couple of costly mistakes in the seventh. She hit Hayley Franks with a pitch, then after Naujokas reached on an error, a wild pitch pushed the runners to second and third. Brooke Wyderski launched a sky-high sacrifice fly to left field to tie it at 2.
McAuley started another mini rally in the bottom of the tenth, putting a runner on with a double and following that up with a sharp shot to Brooke Wyderski. However, the seasoned infielder recorded the putout to give Marist the victory.
The Mighty Macs won two out of three games this week — defeating Minooka 2-1 on Monday and Lincoln-Way East 5-1 on Friday and losing to Marist 3-2 on Wednesday.
Against Minooka, Kelly O’Donnell stole home and Amy Balich (2-for-4) ripped an RBI double to boost visiting Mother McAuley. Dara Sanders (5-hitter, 7 strikeouts) fired a complete game for the Mighty Macs.
Against Marist, the Mighty Macs drew even in the third when Elizabeth Nye bunted for a single and came in on a sacrifice fly by Emily Rux. The Mighty Macs went in front in the fourth on doubles by Morgan Fleming and Mady Ruppert.
In the tenth, McAuley caught a breath of life with two outs in the bottom of the 10th when Balich doubled to the fence in center. Dara Sanders followed by hitting a sharp grounder to the hole before Wyderski recorded the putout to end the game.
McAuley’s Emily Marousek, meanwhile, was cruising through six innings, allowing just four hits before Marist rallied to force extra innings.
In the win over Lincoln-Way East, Briana Gyrion’s two-run double in the top of the third capped a five-run outburst for visiting Mother McAuley (16-5) on Friday. Maryssa Vela (2-for-4) tacked on two runs and an RBI for the Mighty Macs.
The Eagles went 3-2 last week, defeating Glenbard South 7-4 on May 5, Homewood-Flossmoor 7-3 on May, Riverside-Brookfield 10-0 on Saturday and losing to Beecher 9-8 last Wednesday.
Against Glenbard South, Brianna Soltis (2-for-4, 2 doubles) had two RBI and Brooke Heimerl (2-for-3, RBI) scored two runs to elevate host Sandburg. In the win over H-F, Katie Krzus (3-for-4, 2 runs) clubbed two homers and finished with four RBI to ignite host Sandburg in the SouthWest Suburban Blue.
In the win over Riverside-Brookfield, Sarah Herold (2 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, 0 R, 0 H) earned the win, and Lauren McCaughey went 2-for-2 with 2 runs and 2 RBI for Sandburg (15-11) on Saturday. Cierra Adamus added two hits and two runs.
The Mustangs went 1-2 last week, dropping games to Richards and Oak Forest before prevailing over Oak Lawn on Thursday.
Evergreen Park began the week with a 6-4 loss to the Bulldogs on May 6 in the South Suburban Red and dropped a 13-3 contest to Evergreen Park in the South Suburban crossover last Wednesday.
In the 5-2 win over the Spartans, Jenna Haase (3-for-4) recorded two doubles and three RBI to direct host Evergreen Park (15-11, 8-8) in the South Suburban Red on Thursday.
The Screeching Eagles rebounded from the tough one-run loss to Shepard in a big way on Wednesday, blanking Oak Lawn 9-0.
Terri Dearth (five strikeouts) pitched five innings of two-hit ball and also went 3-for-3 with a solo homer and two RBI for host Mt. Assisi on Wednesday. Sabrina Miller (3-for-4, 3 runs) led the Eagles with two homers and five RBI.
The Eagles were unable to make it two in a row, dropping a close 9-7 decision to Lisle on Thursday. Amber Anderson, Dana Bunting and Terri Dearth hit home runs. Mt. Assisi fell to 7-14 with a 6-3 loss to Ridgewood on Saturday, as two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh was not enough.
The Lady Knights dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 decision on Friday to St. Edwards the Suburban Christian Conference.
The team had the tying run at third and no outs in the seventh inning but failed to get the tying or winning run across — as a popped-up bunt resulted in a double play for St. Edward, followed up by a strike out to end the game.
Chicago Christian’s Kaycee Pittman singled to lead off the seventh. Sam Kubik reached first on a throwing error that scored Pittman, and advanced to third on the play before the rally turned suddenly sour.
The Spartans started the week with a 2-1 victory over Reavis in the South Suburban Red, as Kaleigh Hayes singled home Hannah Papaleo with the winning run in the bottom of the sixth for Oak Lawn. Mia Loya allowed four hits in going the route for the Spartans.
The team suffered a 9-0 setback against Mt. Assisi on Wednesday, a 5-2 defeat to Evergreen Park on Thursday and a 3-2 loss to Shepard on Saturday.
Queen of Peace
The Pride improved their record to 4-13 with a 14-6 victory over St. Joseph in the GCAC crossover on May 5. Emily Janozik slugged a three-run homer, and Erin Jones (3-for-5) scored three runs to key visiting Queen of Peace. Isabelle Ogden struck out seven in going the route for the Pride.
Meaghan Hynes’ double was one of four hits for the visiting Chargers (2-13, 1-8), who were defeated 14-0 by Joliet West in the SouthWest Suburban Blue last Thursday.