Lady Bulldogs show versatility in winning week
One of the visible qualities in Richards’ 2014 softball squad, according to coach Julie Folliard, is versatility.
And that attribute manifested itself even during the Lady Bulldogs’ only opening-week loss, which Lincoln-Way Central administered by an 8-5 count last Wednesday.
Folliard made a pitching change in the fifth inning Aof that game, moving starter Sara Tobin from the circle to center field. Tobin’s presence out there was felt immediately, as she fired a strike to home plate to cut down a runner and stop a would-be score.
While it’s true that Tobin’s primary position last spring was in the middle of the outfield, she nevertheless embodies the kind of flexibility that doesn’t always show up in a box score, yet speaks volumes on the field.
“Sara’s the epitome of a team player,” Folliard said. “She’s selfless and a great competitor. She’s ready and willing to play anywhere we need her to play to help our season be successful.
“She’s logging more innings [as a pitcher] than in the field, and yet when she executed that perfect throw from center field to home plate during her first inning in the outfield, I thought to myself, ‘What a talented athlete she is.’ Our team leans on Sara for that kind of support, and she loves it.”
Folliard, meanwhile, loves the fact that every member of her team is being taught to be adaptable and ready to do whatever is necessary to benefit the ballclub as a whole.
“The versatility on this team is huge,” Folliard said. “We’re training the kids in two and three positions because, down the stretch, we’re going to have strong bats, but we’re looking for where our various strengths of defense will be.”
Richards started the season with a convincing 16-0 win over TF North last Tuesday at the Max McCook Athletic and Exposition Center. Jordan Battles went 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI to key an offensive onslaught for the Lady Bulldogs, but Emily Wetzel (homer, triple, three RBI) and Kaitlyn Fetchko (2-for-3, double, RBI) also contributed.
Molly Pohrebny, Wetzel, Sara Kiziak and Hailey Czerwinski all had two hits for Richards in the loss to Lincoln-Way Central. The Lady Bulldogs trailed 7-1 at one juncture, but scored three times in the sixth to put some heat on the Lady Knights. Wetzel’s triple and back-to-back doubles from Pohrebny and Abby Gentile triggered the rally.
Richards tallied again in its ensuing at-bat and brought the tying run to the plate before relief pitcher Sarah Mikolajczak finally slammed the door on it. Tobin gave the Lady Bulldogs some solid pitching as well, as she allowed only two hits and fanned five during a four-inning stint.
“Lincoln-Way Central stepped up and got a couple of key hits that knocked in a handful of runs each time,” Folliard said. “We had some opportunities and we just didn’t capitalize on [enough of] them, [but] we put together a nice comeback down 7-1. We showed some gumption and drive on our part and some fight, which is great.”
Richards bounced back from that defeat to shut out TF South 5-0 in a South Suburban Conference crossover contest on Friday.
Tobin again struck out five while limiting the Lady Rebels to just one hit. Two other TF South batters got aboard via walks. Kiziak (2-for-4) had a double, drove in a run and scored twice to key the Lady Bulldogs’ offense.
“We saw some good pitchers [last] week,” Folliard said. “Lincoln-Way Central showed a couple of good pitchers, as did TF South. It was beneficial for our hitters to see the movement outside of our own team.
“That was a good win [over the Lady Rebels]. TF South is the strongest I’ve seen them in a few years, and I really think they’re going to have a good season.”
Folliard appreciated the role Tobin played throughout the week, but particularly on Friday.
“It’s a stretch for her to be one of our top outfielders and leading hitters, and now to be used [as a pitcher], but Sara had a really nice outing for her[self],” Folliard said.”
Richards was slated to face its share of tests this week, as it met up with defending SSC Blue champion Lemont and Oak Forest before clashing with highly rated Lincoln-Way West on Friday.
“This should be a good week for us,” Folliard said, “Hopefully, our field will be ready. The infield has been renovated and it looks nice.”
The Lady Eagles won two out of three games on Friday at the Lady Warriors Southern Classic in Lebanon, Tenn., to improve their record to 4-1.
Sandburg began the day with a 6-5 victory over Wilson Central (Tenn.) as Karli McLaughlin’s RBI single in the top of the seventh capped a three-run rally for the Lady Eagles. Briana Soltis (4-for-4, three runs) swatted two homers and totaled three RBI to pace Sandburg’s attack.
The Lady Eagles followed up that success with a 10-6 conquest of Greenbriar (Tenn.) in their next outing. Lauren McCaughey rapped a two-run double and two-RBI single to propel Sandburg, but Soltis and Katie Krusz backed their teammate with two hits and two RBI apiece.
Owensboro (Ky.) prevented the Lady Eagles from making a clean sweep on Friday as it handed down an 8-1 defeat. Krzus’ first-inning homer accounted for Sandburg’s lone marker.
The Lady Spartans opened their season last Wednesday against South Elgin, which doled out losses in both ends of a doubleheader. Oak Lawn’s setbacks came by scores of 12-0 and 9-2 at the Dome in Rosemont.
Mia Loya had two hits for the Lady Spartans in Game 2, while Ashley Labuda and Kayla Reichert drove in their runs. Outfielders Kaleigh Hayes and Reily McTeague and catcher Hayden Landingham were Oak Lawn’s bright spots on defense.
The Screeching Eagles’ final softball campaign began on a strong note as they thumped Walther Lutheran 17-0 last Friday. The joy was short-lived, however, as Immaculate Conception turned the tables on Mt. Assisi by administering a 10-1 defeat on Saturday.
Terri Dearth’s four RBI highlighted a 10-hit Eagles attack in the team’s win. That hit total was shaved in half the next day, and Mt. Assisi compounded its difficulties versus the Lady Knights by committing six errors.
QUEEN OF PEACE
IC also victimized the Pride, who dropped a 14-2 verdict to the Lady Knights on Friday.
Emily Janosik was Queen of Peace’s standout as she poked a double and knocked in both of its runs.