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Lexi Lennon’s promotion to the Evanston varsity girls softball team has basically been to keep classmate Serafina Goodwill from having to pitch every single inning of every single game.
But the freshman hurler, who is still bouncing back and forth between the varsity and junior varsity squads on a weekly basis, has provided much more help than that.
Lennon’s sparkling defense at first base was a plus Friday despite the fact that the Wildkits saw their modest two-game winning string snapped in a chilly 5-2 defeat at Stevenson.
Ironically, two ETHS outfield errors – one with the bases loaded – accounted for almost all of Stevenson’s scoring against losing pitcher Goodwill. But Lennon and sophomore outfielder Kelsey Blickenstaff turned in gold glove efforts even as the rest of the defense rested.
Teaching and then re-emphasizing fundamentals on defense has been a big part of the job this spring for ETHS head coach Amy Gonzales and assistant Beeta Azarnoosh with such a young ballclub. So far, the jury is still out as the Wildkits slipped to 4-5 overall on the season.
“We had some good plays at times today,” Coach Gonzales agreed. “We’re just looking to be more consistent making plays. When we do that, that makes it easier on our pitchers, that makes it easier on everybody. We just didn’t make all the plays we needed today.
“Lexi isn’t just a pitcher, she’s a good athlete. So is Serafina. And I thought Kelsey made two great catches for us in right field in foul ground today. We just need to keep working on defense.”
Lennon, who also pitched a scoreless inning of relief to help at the end of a busy week on the schedule, contributed a little bit of everything on defense. She helped the Kits out of a jam in the Stevenson first, after Goodwill had issued a bases loaded walk to opposing hurler Haley Barnes to force in the first run of the game.
Right fielder Lucia Goldberg dropped a fly ball for another run, but Lennon’s subsequent relay throw to the plate nailed another Stevenson runner trying to score and Goodwill retired the next two Patriot hitters without further damage.
Lennon’s spectacular grab of a foul popup accounted for the last out in the Stevenson second, and in the fifth she scooped a low throw to save an error for third baseman Katy Cleland.
Lennon also figured in Evanston’s two-run rally in the third to tie the score. After Blickenstaff walked and Katie Patton reached on an error, the left-handed hitting Lennon smacked a grounder to third that Stevenson’s Lexi Gitler threw into the dirt at first, scoring both Kits.
But the Patriots staged their winning rally in their half of the fourth. Goodwill surrendered singles to Hailey Langer and Phoebe Guercio and with two outs issued a free pass to Elle Ruchim on a close 3-2 pitch.
Goldberg then misplayed a fly ball hit by Michaela Duffy in the wind and the sun as all three runners came home.
“The wind [creating knuckleballs out of every ball hit in the air] was a little weird today,” Coach Gonzales pointed out. “But the conditions are the conditions. You just have to adjust.”