Lady Bulldogs draw closer to another title
Richards is seeing red again — a Red Division title, that is.
Nothing is yet official, but the Lady Bulldogs improved their odds of grabbing a fourth consecutive South Suburban Conference Red championship by notching three more victories last week. The trio of wins elevated Richards’ overall record to 14-4 and its league mark to 12-2.
The last of those triumphs, 11-3 over Reavis, gave Lady Bulldogs coach Julie Folliard her 600th career win. She has guided Richards to plus-.500 ledgers in all but two of her 26 seasons at the Oak Lawn school.
Also conquered by the Lady Bulldogs last week were Hillcrest (13-0) and neighborhood rival Oak Lawn (4-3 in eight innings).
“We’re really focused on our conference right now,” Folliard said. “In terms of the 600th win coming in a conference game, that was terrific for the girls because they’ll always remember it. It was a good game.
“We were able to jump ahead [of Reavis] early. The kids have been focused and they’re getting better every game. They’re feeding off the continued progress, which is fun to see as a coach.”
Sara Tobin was a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with a double and triple to pace an active Richards offense. Jordan Battels (two hits, two RBI), Molly Pohrebny (two hits, including a double, two RBI), Sara Kiziak (two hits, including a triple) and Emily Wetzel (triple, two RBI) were other key figures.
Kiziak’s contributions extended into the pitching circle, where she held the Lady Rams to three hits and struck out eight.
“That triple [by Kiziak in the first inning] helped us and really set the tone,” Folliard said. “She’s been doing a great job, offensively and defensively. She’s been teaming with Sara Tobin (4-2) on the mound, with Victoria Nemec closing out the games, [and] it seems to be working for us.”
It was especially working for Tobin on Monday against Hillcrest as she threw a perfect game over five innings and struck out 10. Andrea Stengle (2-for-3) blasted a three-run homer for the Lady Bulldogs.
“Anytime you can throw a perfect game, that’s special,” Folliard said. “It was great for Sara because she was epitomizing our hard-work ethic and really having pride in her role. But a perfect game takes some extra concentration regardless of the team you’re playing.
“It was really outstanding for Sara and the team. Sara is strong mentally and she also received great support defensively.”
Lauryn McManus singled home Pohrebny in the top of the eighth with the deciding run as Richards nipped the Lady Spartans. Savana Julian added two hits and two runs for the Lady Bulldogs, who had fallen behind early in the game after Mia Loya socked a three-run homer for Oak Lawn.
They responded with scores in the second, fifth and seventh innings in addition to the eighth. Although the Lady Spartans (10-10, 5-6) could not do any more damage beyond Loya’s round-tripper, Morgan Jozsa, Hayden Landingham and Elizabeth Childers all delivered a pair of hits on the losing team’s behalf
“To our defensive credit, we shut down Oak Lawn the rest of the way,” Folliard said. “They had some more good hits and baserunners, and our defense stepped up to the occasion. Oak Lawn also had two runners on base in the eighth, [so] it was a great effort on the team’s part.
“Oak Lawn is always a good team and we were expecting a good game. We’re not overlooking anybody [and] we were thrilled at the team’s performance. It was an exciting game and the girls were really focused.”
Folliard said Richards, which possesses much talent, has been discovering more and more of its identity, and it’s been showing in recent weeks.
“Identity comes from not only wins, but also losses,” she said. “When you struggle, you see who rises to the top and who bounces back strong the next day. You learn about a lot about yourself and your team. They’re coming together as a team and really support each other.
“We had girls coming back from last year’s team, but a lot of them were just first-year starters last year on the varsity level. They’ve really matured since last season, and I really see our juniors this year as a lot like seniors. [It’s] time for them to step up, and they are.”
The Lady Bulldogs were scheduled to meet Evergreen Park, Eisenhower and Riverside-Brookfield this week.
A split with Providence Catholic was the lone bright spot for the Lady RedHawks last week as they posted a 1-3 record. Marist dropped both ends of an East Suburban Catholic Conference doubleheader to Benet Academy (5-2 and 10-8) on Saturday.
The Lady Celtics also got the better of the Lady RedHawks last Tuesday by a 4-2 score. Brooke Wyderski (two hits) tallied once for Marist and knocked in its other run.
Behind Madison Naujokas’ perfect 5-for-5 exhibition and three RBI, the Lady RedHawks rebounded to take down Providence hard, 14-6, in a Wednesday rematch. Also contributing for Marist were Brooke Wilson (three hits, three RBI) and Hayley Franks (three hits, four runs).
Naujokas’ pair of two-run homers kept the Lady RedHawks fighting in Game 2 on Saturday, but neither those long balls nor a two-hit performance by Wyderski were enough to derail the once-beaten Lady Redwings. Wyderski homered and Alexis Rogers stroked an RBI double for Marist in Saturday’s opener.
After losing a 5-1 verdict to Lockport last Monday, the Lady Eagles bounced back to defeat Fenwick (5-4), Stagg (12-0) and Joliet West (8-7) in succession, the latter two in SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue contests.
Sandburg (12-9, 5-2) required 10 innings to top the Lady Friars on Tuesday, finally doing so on Madeline Hanley’s RBI. Caroline Kuzel fired a six-hitter and fanned seven for the Lady Eagles.
Sandburg’s work day got cut in half on Wednesday as it overpowered the Lady Chargers in five innings behind big days from Katie Krzus and Brianna Soltis, who combined for five hits and six runs. Each player slugged a homer.
It was back to a nail-biter when the Lady Eagles tangled with Joliet. Sandburg emerged triumphant when Cierra Adams poked a two-run single in the sixth, which capped a seven-run rally.
Kristen Zarate’s bases-loaded walk gave the Lady Eagles their lone run in the loss to Lockport.
Wins over Queen of Peace (16-0) and Reavis (7-3) assured the Mighty Macs of a successful week despite an ensuing setback versus Oak Forest (5-3).
Jen Alberts threw a one-hitter and struck out 13 as Mother McAuley hammered the Pride in a GCAC Red contest. Maryssa Vela slammed a three-run homer and Kara Bischoff (three hits, three RBI, three runs) also played a featured role for the Macs, who stayed perfect (8-0) at home.
Isabelle Ogden collected Peace’s lone safety with her fourth-inning single.
Alex Brown, Kelly O’Donnell and Morgan Fleming all had RBI singles in a five-run first inning that catapulted McAuley past the Lady Rams. Dara Sanders fanned seven in pitching a complete game for the visiting Macs (14-4).
QUEEN OF PEACE
Jasmine Escobedo unloaded a three-run homer later in the week and Abigail Bennett smashed a grand slam, but the Peace were unable to prosper as a team as they slipped to 3-14. Bennett collected three hits in all and totaled five RBI in Game 2 of a Saturday twinbill against Evergreen Park.
Erin Jones went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run in the opener.
Starring for the Lady Mustangs that day were Abby Langevin (three hits, three RBI in Game 1) and Caroline Andrade (three hits with a homer, five RBI and three runs in Game 2). Maddie Vojacek was the winning pitcher in the opener.
Evergreen (14-8) triumphed 6-4 and 20-14.
The Lady Knights had a mixed-bag week as they slipped a 3-0 victory over Wheaton Academy in between losses to Aurora Central Catholic (4-3) and Illiana Christian (4-2).
Davina Gutierrez struck out 10 batters in Chicago Christian’s win, which was also made possible by offensive input from Sam Kubik (two hits, three RBI) and Trisha Belgrave (two hits, two runs). Gutierrez belted an RBI double for the Lady Knights (7-10) on Saturday versus Illiana.
Alyssa DeChene’s ninth-inning double gave the Lady Astros the deciding run in an 8-7 win over Reavis last Tuesday. The hit scored freshman Jenna Husenga, who also had two RBI on the day.
Stephanie Brand pitched a complete game for Shepard.
Terri Dearth (two hits, two runs) and Molly Murphy (RBI triple) had good days, but that couldn’t prevent the Screeching Eagles (5-11, 3-6) from absorbing an 11-6 GCAC loss against De La Salle last Wednesday.
Besides their loss to Sandburg, the Chargers also dropped an SWSC Blue contest to Lockport (4-0) last week. Alexis Minet had a double for Stagg (2-11, 1-6) in Friday’s setback.