After falling to Central Suburban League foe Glenbrook North on May 13, the Evanston Township High School softball team took on Proviso West on May 16 with hopes of getting back into the win column. Fortunately for the Wildkits, that is exactly what happened: The Kits shut out the Panthers, 10-0.
Sophomore Jessica Garcia led the Kits, pitching a complete game one-hitter and striking out eight batters. Garcia also went 2-for 4 at the plate. In addition, the Kits got solid performances from junior center fielder Allie Nortz, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored, and senior shortstop/catcher Caroline Duke, who went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Regarding her team’s performance, Head Coach Kristen Proffitt said, “The team played very well and played great defense behind our young pitcher.” She added, “[Sophomore] Cate Rudy made an excellent play in right field to catch what looked like an extra base hit. It was nice to see the whole team working together and having fun.”
With the victory, the Kits improved their overall record to 12-16 and despite being slightly below .500, Proffitt is pleased with how the season has gone to this point.
“The season is going well, but I wish that we had fewer injuries – some of our players have been forced to play out of position all season,” said Proffitt. “I wish we were able to set a defense and stick with it. That would allow our kids to get used to each other and get used to their starting position.” The coach added, “However, most factors this season have been out of their control, and I think that they are doing a great job being flexible and doing their best in every situation.”
In the season finale on May 18, the Kits took on Proviso East and prevailed 14-0 on Senior Day in Evanston. The seniors certainly finished the regular season with a bang, pitcher Allie Managlia throwing a no-hitter while striking out four batters. This was her second career no-hitter. Her first came in her first career start for the Kits four years ago. At the plate, Duke went 3-for-4 with two triples, a grand slam while driving in six runs. Third baseman/shortstop Anna Balch alsowent 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Proffitt says the seniors on the team – Duke, Managlia, Balch – and left fielder Maddie Reiches will be missed next season. If all goes to plan, however, look for those four to put the Kits into position to extend the season a little longer.
But regardless of what happens in the postseason, Proffitt said, she is proud of her seniors.“They are great softball players and great leaders,” she says. “They will be missed greatly and we are very glad to have had them in the program.”
With the regular season now complete, the Kits, who finished the regular season with an overall 13-16 record, are ready for postseason action and Proffitt knows what her team must do in order to make a long postseason run. “Heading into the postseason, my goal is for my team to play together as a team. This is the only way to win games. I hope that they continue to support one another and to work together toward their common goals,” said Proffitt. “Our keys to success are playing together and scoring runs.”
The coach added, “We have a few big hitters [including junior first baseman Caitlin Boer, who hit .359, hit 10 doubles, three triples, one homerun and 18 RBI’s, along with Balch, who hit .541 with 11 doubles, three triples, five homeruns and 45 RBI’s] on our team and we need to make sure that we get people on base so that they can drive them in.”
The No.10-seeded Kits were set to take on No. 5-seed St. Ignatius in the first round of the Class 4A Maine West Regionals on May 22, the day this paper went to press. Coach Proffitt said, “St. Ignatius is a very good team. We have not played them this season, but I know that they play solid softball. We will have to play our best game to beat them, but winning is a definite possibility. I know that our team will be pumped up for the game, and will play at their highest level.”
If the Kits can indeed play at their highest level and beat St. Ignatius, that would earn them a spot in the regional championship game on May 25 against either Maine West, Von Steuben or Proviso East.