Lady Spartans practicing aggressive behavior
Oak Lawn coach Brian Frangella knows his team doesn’t boast a great deal of power in its batting order, so an aggressive style of play will be necessary for the Lady Spartans to have any real chance at prosperity.
Oak Lawn demonstrated just how much that method means to it last Monday, when it battered Bremen 11-2 in a South Suburban Conference crossover contest. The win was the Lady Spartans’ first of 2014, and although it was followed up by a 10-4 loss to TF South, Frangella still thinks his club is headed in the right direction.
“What we saw against Bremen is what we want to do as a team, offensively and defensively,” he said. “Offensively, we were very aggressive on the bases [and had five steals]. I think good things happen when you put the pressure on the defense.
“That’s one thing we talked about: We’re not going to hit a lot of home runs, so we have to be very aggressive on the bases and put pressure on the defense. That aggressiveness came together in the Bremen game.”
Reily McTeague and Ashley Labuda were Oak Lawn’s ringleaders versus the Lady Braves. They went a combined 8-of-9 at the plate and totaled six RBI between them. Two of McTeague’s hits were doubles, while Labuda swiped three bases and scored a run.
Frangella was especially pleased with McTeague’s input.
“Reily is exploding offensively,” he said. “She was solid for us against Bremen and kept a hot bat against TF South [with four more hits].
“She’s just seeing the ball well, hitting everything hard, and using both sides of the field. She’s really driving our offense right now.”
Complementing the McTeague-Labuda duo were Kaleigh Hayes (two hits, two runs, two steals, one RBI) and Kayla Reichert (two hits, two runs, one RBI).
Mia Loy pitched a four-hitter for the Lady Spartans (1-3, 1-1) while fanning eight.
“She can get that strikeout to get us out of an inning — that’s huge,” Frangella said. “You can’t teach that. There was a couple times when Bremen had [runners on] second and third, or the bases loaded with less than two outs, and she got us out of the inning with a strikeout and groundout with nobody scoring.
“That’s awesome that she can do that. She really came up big for us.”
Frangella, though, doesn’t want Loy to become preoccupied with her strikeout total.
“Mia has really good stuff and she had a lot of confidence out there,” he said. “The good weapon in her arsenal is that she can strike people out, especially with runners on base. Now, [it would be even better] if we can just convince her that it’s more democratic to get ground balls so that she doesn’t have to throw as many pitches to strike people out.”
Frangella said the respective outcomes in the Bremen and TF South games represented the difference in levels of aggression from his athletes.
“We were still aggressive [versus the Lady Rebels],” he said. “I still think we played pretty well, [but] we just didn’t have enough innings where we stole bases and scored runs in bunches. We weren’t valuing the softball, going after it and taking it away from them.”
What has helped Oak Lawn in its development is the opportunity to finally get outdoors to practice.
“We had a good practice on Wednesday and a really good practice on Saturday,” Frangella said. “I asked the girls to say what have we improved on, and they said we were going after the ball [better] and talking to each other more. I’m hoping the girls can get in a rhythm. I know we were tired of the gym.
“It was so nice to get outside on the field on Saturday, and we got a lot accomplished. It felt good to be in the fresh air and sunshine on our field. I think it clicked [for us], and I hope it did because we have a lot of games coming up.”
On tap this week were SSC matchups with Tinley Park, Shepard and Reavis, plus a nonconference doubleheader against Morton.
The Lady Bulldogs went 1-2 last week as they defeated Lemont 6-5 in an SSC crossover game on Monday before losing 18-17 to Oak Forest and 7-1 to Sandburg on Tuesday and Saturday, respectively.
Against the Lady Indians, Richards tallied two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win. Jordan Battles doubled and then crossed the plate on Emily Wetzel’s double to tie the score at 5-all before Sara Kiziak hit the game-winning RBI single.
Kiziak (3-for-4, double, one run) also earned the pitching victory in relief after allowing four hits and striking out four over five innings. She went 3-for-5 with a homer, double and three RBI in the Lady Bulldogs’ loss to the Lady Bengals.
Sarah Herold pitched the Lady Eagles (5-2) to their victory over Richards as she fired a one-hitter with five strikeouts. She issued just one walk over five innings, and the run the Lady Bulldogs scored off her was unearned.
The Lady Astros gained a split of two SSC crossover contests last week. Shepard crushed TF North on Tuesday, one day after dropping a 4-1 decision to TF South.
Stephanie Brand was charged with the loss versus the Lady Rebels. She pitched all seven frames, walked none and struck out three. The Lady Astros notched their only run on Jalyn Stepney’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
Nikki Alex kept the Lady Meteors stymied last Tuesday, as she yielded just one hit while whiffing nine over five stanzas. Offensively, Stepney was Shepard’s headliner with her 5-for-5, five-RBI performance.
After rolling over Hillcrest (10-0) and Mt. Assisi (12-5) last Monday and Wednesday, respectively, the Lady Mustangs had to settle for a week-long split as they fell short twice against Lincoln-Way East on Saturday, 10-0 and 10-4.
Pitcher Maddie Bojacek (1-0) gave up only one hit and struck out four Lady Hawks batters over four innings. Bethany Salazar went 3-for-3 with a double and Jenna Haase went 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and two runs for Evergreen Park in its season-opener.
In the win over the Screeching Eagles, Salazar struck out five and gave up seven hits, but was just as important at the plate as she went 5-for-6 with two RBI and three runs. Maddie Meisl (5-for-5, three runs) and Carolyn Roberts (3-for-5, double, three RBI) also contributed for the Lady Mustangs.
Freshman Amber Anderson (two RBI) was Mt. Assisi’s top offensive performer. Dana Bunting worked six innings in the circle and struck out three.
The Lady RedHawks (5-3) captured a 7-2 victory in East Suburban Catholic Conference play on Saturday, as winning pitcher Zariya Gonzalez (4-1) struck out nine. Brooke Wilson (3-for-4, triple, three RBI, two steals, one run) and Madison Naujokas (3-for-4, triple, RBI, two runs) were the mainstays of Marist’s attack.
Besides losing to Evergreen, the Eagles also fell short of St. Ignatius (9-6) in a Friday matchup. Their week was salvaged by a 4-3 triumph over Resurrection on Saturday.
Mt. Assisi, which scored twice in both the first and fifth frames, finished with nine hits in its win.
Bunting fanned five while taking the loss opposite the Lady Wolfpack. Kyle Maloy drove in a run for the Eagles.
The Lady Chargers dropped a 2-0 decision to Marian Catholic on Saturday.
Stagg pitcher Stephanie Lorenz allowed just three hits, while Sam Owens and Lexi Minet both hit safely for Stagg.