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After falling to Central Suburban League Conference foe Glenbrook North in the regional championship game last season, the Evanston Township High School girls’ softball team looks to put that loss behind them with a solid 2013 campaign.
This years’ team features 10 returning players, including five 2012 all-conference honorees, which has head coach Kristin Proffitt feeling good about her team’s chances this season. “We should have a very successful season in terms of both outcome and team goals,” said Proffitt. “We have a good group of girls with lots of varsity returners and upperclassmen. This is really the first time that I have had such a large group of my own returning varsity players.” She added, “We hope to have a winning season for the first time ever [and] we also hope to make a name for ourselves in the CSL South.”
In order for the Wildkits to do that, Coach Proffitt feels her team needs to play as a team and for each player to contribute throughout the season. “A major key to our success would be for our players to continue to be team players and focus on the team goals and team effort,” said the Coach. “We have lots of players so everyone needs to play the role that will help the team in the best way.”
The Kits, who went 16-20 in 2012, will be led by senior pitcher Allie Managlia, senior shortstop/second baseman/catcher Caroline Duke and senior shortstop/third baseman Anna Balch. All three, in addition to sophomore first baseman Emma Maxwell and senior third baseman/outfielder Maddie Reiches, earned all conference honors in 2012.
“Allie will lead the charge for our team and will keep us in every game while allowing our hitters to give her leads and wins,” said Coach Proffitt regarding fourth year pitching ace Managlia, who had a 2.11 ERA in 2012. Regarding Duke, the Coach said, “Caroline is in her fourth year on varsity. She has batted over .500 every year and her swing is looking great again this year. When catching, she will have a great opportunity to take control of the whole field and when playing middle infield, the team will benefit from her incredible athleticism and range.” Regarding Balch, Coach Proffitt said, “Anna was all state for us as a sophomore (two years ago). She moved away last year but is back this year and better than ever. She will lead the team both vocally and by example.”
In addition to Managlia, Duke, Balch, Maxwell and Reiches, the other returning players includejunior centerfielder Allie Nortz, junior catcher Emily Mathyer, junior first baseman/designated hitter Caitlin Boer, sophomore second baseman Izzy Bergman and sophomore second baseman/utility player Cate Rudy.
In the season opener on April 1, the Kits did not get off to the kind of start they hoped for, as they fell to Palatine, 11-6. But they were able to bounce back the next day and beat Maine East, 13-3. Against Maine East, Managlia earned her first win of the season and struck out 13 batters. At the plate, Reiches went 3-for-3 with a double and four runs batted in.
The Kits lost to Schaumburg, 4-0, on April 3, but rebounded and beat Highland Park, 14-3, on April 4. Against the Giants, the Kits were led by Balch, who went 3-for-4 with two triples and a home run, along with five runs batted in. In addition, Nortz went 2-for 3 with two walks and stole four bases. Managlia won her second game and struck out eight batters.
“The girls played very well together [against Highland Park]. They were communicating and showing their confidence in themselves and in one another,” said Proffitt. “I thought that we looked more confident at the plate and the hits we had were a result of that confidence.” She added, “It was nice to get some warmer weather and I think it allowed Allie Managlia’s pitches to move a lot and fool the batters. I think as we continue to play together we will gel even more and will grow as a group.”
On April 8 the Wildkits beat the Payton Grizzlies 9-0, to bring their overall record to 3-0. Next up, the Kits take on archrival New Trier on April 11 followed by Walther Lutheran on April 12. Then they have a double header against Stevenson on April 13.