Evanston pitcher Serafina Goodwill was hit hard in a season-opening softball loss to Taft last week, and hurt her own cause by issuing seven walks against Vernon Hills in a Central Suburban League crossover game versus Vernon Hills Thursday.

But the freshman also helped herself, lashing a two-run single as part of a four-run sixth inning uprising that secured Evanston’s first victory of the spring.

Chloe Haack and Katy Patton each slugged two-run home runs as the Wildkits outscored Vernon Hills 9-6 and evened their record at 1-1 on the season.

Even if the jury is out on just how successful Goodwill will be in the circle, ETHS head coach Amy Gonzales didn’t need to be convinced that the first-year player was ready for varsity competition with her bat. She installed Goodwill in the No. 3 spot in the batting order and saw that move pay off after the visiting Cougars had forged ahead 6-5 in their half of the sixth.

Singles by Katy Cleland – a bunt –  and Haack, and a successful sacrifice bunt by Eva Eiseman gave Goodwill an opportunity she wasn’t about to miss. She ripped an 0-1 pitch from Cougars’ reliever Samone Stevens up the middle, plating both teammates, then scored herself when Patton clubbed a home run off the top of the fence in center field.

Goodwill retired three of four batters she faced in the seventh, completing a marathon 147-pitch effort that included seven walks, eight strikeouts and nine Vernon Hills hits. At the plate, she went two-for-four with two runs scored and two RBIs.

“Did I feel good about having Serafina up there in that situation? Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah!” exclaimed Coach Gonzales. “She’s always ready to hit and I knew she’d put the ball in play. She swings so hard and she really wants to hit. She’s probably seen good pitching already in her career [in summer age-group competition] and it was exciting to see her up there in that situation.

“Walks here and there like that are definitely an issue, but that’s better than the doubles and triples she gave up in the first game [a 16-1 loss to Taft]. Today she threw a lot of pitches, but I thought she was a little more relaxed. It’s understandable if she’s nervous, because she’s doing it all for us [pitching and batting third].

“I also thought she adjusted quickly from that illegal pitch call [for not maintain contact with the rubber] in the first inning. She got called for that in our first game, too.”

Haack’s second home run in as many games helped the Wildkits build a 5-1 lead after three innings, along with an RBI single by Patton and a bases-loaded walk to Cleland. But Vernon Hills chipped away with two runs in the fourth and a single run in the fifth.

In the Cougars’ sixth, an error opened the floodgates and doubles by Qiara Merritt and Mackenzie Barberis were part of a two-run rally. Goodwill escaped further damage when she retired the dangerous Kayla Lorenz with runners on first and third on a fly ball to center for the final out of the frame.

“I really thought we were in control of the game from the start, but then we had some mental mistakes,” Coach Gonzales said. “It’s just nice to get that first win.”