Last season, the Evanston Township High School softball team finished with a record of 15-20 and beat Resurrection in the Regional semi-finals. With the season just under way, the Wildkits hope to build on that victory with a strong 2011 season.
But the Kits were unable to start the campaign on the right foot. In the season-opener on Mar. 29 against Lane Tech, the Kits lost, 7-1. The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when Lane was able to get to junior pitcher Jenna Ehrensaft. Lane scored five runs off six hits in the inning.
The Kits were led by senior co-captain Megan Lindeman, who went 2 for 3 with a double, while junior catcher Lauren Nortz had a single and the Kits’ only RBI, and Ehrensaft reached base twice in three at bats in the loss.
But the Kits were able to bounce back two days later, beating Gordon Tech, 17-1, in five innings. Third baseman Anna Balch went 3 for 4 with two triples and five RBI.
Then on April 5 the Kits visited Maine East and won, 13-1. Ehrensaft picked up the win and struck out five batters. At the plate, Balch went 3 for 4 with three RBI, sophomore second baseman Caroline Duke went 2 for 3 with a triple and four RBI, and sophomore shortstop Maddie Reiches went 2 for 2, both doubles and two RBI.
The Kits took on Wheeling on April 6 and lost, 3-2. Sophomore pitcher Allie Managlia suffered her first loss of the season but struck out nine. At the plate for the Kits, Duke went 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI, along with two stolen bases.
“Managlia pitched a great game against Wheeling,” said head coach Kristen Proffitt. “She was really hitting her spots and made me very optimistic about having her on the mound this season.”
Unfortunately the Kits left the bases loaded three times during the game, which Proffitt said hurt their chances to win.
“The positive of that situation was that we were getting lots of people on base,” she said. “We have worked in practice on putting the ball in play with runners in scoring position, and hopefully we will see some more clutch hitting as the season continues.”
After back-to-back road games against Maine East and Wheeling, the Kits returned home to Evanston to play a doubleheader on April 9 against Plainfield East. In the first game, both teams were unable to score through four innings with Managlia working on a no-hitter. But in the fifth, she ran into some trouble. Plainfield scored six runs off three hits and the Kits committed three errors in the inning, giving the Bengals a solid lead. In the seventh, after the Bengals scored another run, the Kits got on the board when Duke hit a sacrifice fly to score their only run. But that was too little too late: Plainfield took the first game, 7-1.
On the plus side, Managlia led the Kits with six strikeouts on the day and went 3 for 4 at the plate with a double and two singles. But the Kits managed to leave eight runners on base, which proved costly.
In the second game, the Kits loaded the bases in the first inning, drawing three straight walks. Then Ehrensaft hit an RBI single, followed by Reiches reaching base on an error, scoring another run, giving the Kits a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, the Kits, leading 3-1, added three more runs, giving them a commanding 6-1 lead – more than enough to give them the win, 6-1.
“The players on Plainfield are very skilled and their entire lineup can bunt and hit for power. It was great that we were able to pull off a win in the second game of the doubleheader,” said Proffitt. “Clearly the girls learned from the loss in the first game, and it’s great to see them learning throughout the season.”
In splitting the doubleheader, the Kits record stood at 3-3 overall as of April 11. “I feel that the season is going extremely well,” said Proffitt. “I love the attitude and effort that has been displayed by our players throughout our practice time and into our first few games. I look forward to working with them each day.”
The Kits took on archrival New Trier on April 12, the day this paper went to press. Next up: Waukegan on April 14.
“Waukegan is a tough conference opponent. Last year we split with them for the year,” said Proffitt. “We are similar in the sense that we are both relatively young and we should have some fun games with them.” She added, “It would be great to come away with a win in our first week of conference play.”
After Waukegan, they play Niles North on April 15, then a doubleheader with Lake Forest on April 16, followed by Maine East on April 18.