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The Evanston Township High School girls softball team is off to a good start, winning three of its first five games. In its fourth game, April 10 at Lake Forest, the Wildkits prevailed 11-2. The Kits scored their 11 runs off 13 hits including two singles, a triple and a home run by sophomore pitcher Darice Wheeler, who drove in three runs as well. Wheeler also had an impressive outing on the mound, allowing just one hit and striking out 10 batters in the victory. With the win, the Kits improved to 4-2 overall.
On April 11, the Kits took on Hersey in Evanston and lost both games of a double header by scores of 4-3 and 14-0. In the first game, the Kits trailed 4-1 in the fifth inning. Then an RBI double by senior Emma Maxwell and a home run by Darice got the Kits back to within one run at 4-3. From there, the Kits were unable to get any closer and the Huskies were able to escape with the victory. In the second game, the Kits were held to just three hits including doubles by juniors Maddy Managlia and Gina Hopf along with a single by sophomore Hannah Schaps, as the visitors cruised to victory.
After the double header, the Kits looked to bounce back against Central Suburban League South Conference foe Waukegan on April 14, which they did by a score of 11-1. The Kits used an eight-run third inning to take control of the game and cruised to victory from there, improving to 5-4 overall and 1-0 in CSL South play. Leading the way for the Kits was sophomore Megan Chambers, who drove in three runs, while Maddy contributed two hits, and Darice struck out nine batters in four innings.
On April 16 the Kits tried to make it two victories in a row when they visited archrival New Trier. Unfortunately, the team came up short, falling to the Trevians 5-2. On April 17, they took on St. Ignatius in Evanston and lost by a score of 7-0. In that game, the Kits were handcuffed by Wolfpack pitcher Colleen Hoffman, who limited them to just one hit while striking out 14. The big blow was a four-run fourth inning that gave the Wolfpack a commanding 5-0 lead, a deficit the Kits were unable to overcome. With the loss, the Kits fell to 5-6 overall.
“We were kind of just missing it [the whole game],” said head coach Luella Gesky. “[But] I think we played well, except for one little piece.” The Coach added, “I loved that we stayed in it and the defense stayed tight even though [they] had that four-run inning. I think a lot of teams would have just folded and made tons of errors and they would have scored all over us, [so] I liked that they hung in there and stayed focused.”
Despite being one-hit by Hoffman, Gesky feels that seeing a pitcher like that can only help her team in the long run. “[Hoffman] was just amazing and I think it was great to see a pitcher of that caliber. I think that they can learn from [facing] that kind of an aggressive pitcher that maybe they have got to be more aggressive.”
When asked about her team’s inability to get the bats going against St. Ignatius, Gesky said, “Honestly, I have to give kudos to [Hoffman]. She had great command of her location and her pitches and I think my batters were too willing to wait for the first strike and that was pretty much the nicest pitch you were going to get was her first pitch strike [and] really that was why we were not hitting.”
On April 18, the Kits flipped the switch on and totaled 29 hits in two games as they swept a double header with Rolling Meadows by scores of 7-6 and 16-5. In the first game, Maddy totaled four hits and drove in three runs, while sophomore Jaden Janzen added three hits in the victory. In the second game, senior Jess Garcia had four hits and three RBIs, Emma added three hits and Gina chipped in two hits and drove in two runs as the Kits’ offense exploded to score 16 runs off 14 hits.
With the victories against Rolling Meadows, the Kits improved to 7-6 overall, matching last season’s win total with a month remaining in the regular season. When asked about her team’s solid start to the season, Gesky said, “It is good comparatively [to last season]. But I would love it to be better. In this start, I think we had two games that I think that we had really great chances to win, and I think if we went back and played those games right now, we would win them.” The Coach added, “But I like the way they are growing with every single game. I think we are getting better as the season goes. So I am really happy with what we are doing so far.”
The Kits hope to have repeat performances of the Rolling Meadows games when they take on Niles West on April 23, Ridgewood on April 24 and Glenbrook South on April 28.