Last year, the Evanston Township High School girls softball team was the No.10 seed in the Evanston Regional when the Wildkits upset seventh-seeded Resurrection High School in the Regional Semi-Finals. This year as the No. 11 seed, the Wildkits took on the fifth-seeded Niles North Vikings in the Class 4A Evanston Regional.
However, the Wildkits were unable to pull off the upset, falling 4-3 to end the season on a sour note. Freshman centerfielder Allie Nortz went 2 for 3 with an RBI double to lead the Kits.
“[Nortz] was huge in this game,” said Head Coach Kristen Proffitt. “Her hitting really came around toward the end of the season and she is starting to really cover her ground in centerfield. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of stats she puts up in her next three years here.”
Regarding the game itself, Proffitt said, “Our team played a phenomenal game. We decided ahead of time that everyone was going to give it everything they had. If our efforts [had] produced a win, we would have been very happy. However, every girl on the team did their very best and that is all you can ask for. None of them will have to think about it later and wonder what could have been if they just would have tried a little harder, because they left it on the field.” She added, “We are on our way up, and I think you will see in the years to come that we are going to be coming out on top in close games like this.”
That game marked the second time in four games the teams faced each other. On May 19, in the regular season home finale at Lazier Field at Memorial Stadium in Evanston, the Kits beat the Vikings, 12-5, and on May 18, the Vikings beat the Kits, 12-5. In that game, third baseman Anna Balch went 4 for 4 with a home run and three RBI for the Kits.
In an earlier game against Highland Park on May 17, the Kits won, 16-8 and Balch went 6 for 6 at the plate, which marked the first time a player has done that in school history. For the season, she led the Kits (and set records) in a number of categories. She batted .663 with a 1.218 slugging percentage, 22 doubles, 12 triples, four homeruns, and 53 RBI. She earned a spot in the Illinois Bandits All-Star game, which gives those selected players a chance to play against the Bandits, Illinois’ professional softball team. She will compete on the Bandits field (27 Jennie Finch Way, Rosemont, IL) on June 21 at 5:00.
“Balch did some unbelievable things this year. This is a huge accomplishment and a great boost to our program, as we are constantly working to build our program and to get Evanston High school on the map for Varsity softball,” said Proffitt.
The Kits finished the season with an overall record of 11-20 and 3-7 in conference play, and looking ahead to next season the Kits have four seniors returning including pitcher Jenna Ehrensaft, catcher Lauren Nortz, second basemen Sarah Denton and outfielder Shakyra Everett. In addition, pitcher and first basemen Allie Managlia will return for her third year at the Varsity level. Returning for their second seasons will be Balch, Allie Nortz, utility player Caroline Duke and shortstop Maddie Reiches.
Even though the season ended earlier than they hoped, there are many positives they can take away from this season. The Kits lineup featured eight new Varsity starters this year.
“Everyone had to learn a new role, whether it be a new position, or just getting used to playing at the Varsity level. Toward the end of the season we were coming very close to [beating] the very good teams (including a 3-2 loss in 8 innings to Glenbrook South on May 11, an extra inning loss to Montini, 4-3 on May 13 and a loss to Niles North),” said Proffitt. “Softball is a very quick game at the Varsity level and the only thing that can get you prepared for that is experience.”
The coach added, “We got experience for a year and we are looking to take that experience and turn it into a winning season in 2012.”