Chloe Haack won’t play any more fastpitch softball once Evanston’s season ends.
That’s the reason the senior shortstop is enjoying one of the best seasons in program history.
Haack celebrated her graduation earlier in the day Friday by slugging two home runs as the Wildkits battled Glenbrook South to an 11-11 tie in eight innings before the game was suspended due to darkness. The two schools will finish off the Central Suburban League South division contest Wednesday at ETHS.
By then, Haack may have slugged her way into the school record book. She smashed her sixth and seveth home runs of the season Friday and needs just two more round-trippers to match the single season ETHS record of nine set by Molly Chambers in 2019.
Friday, Haack went 4-for-4 and pushed her season batting average to a remarkable .551. What’s really remarkable is that Haack’s decision to step back from the sport last summer, and to stop worrying about the recruiting wars for potential collegiate players, is one of the reasons she’s had so much success in her final high school season.
Whether she sets any more records at Evanston or not, she’ll just be a student – not a student-athlete – when she attends New York University next fall.
“I’m not planning to play in college,” Haack said. “My freshman and sophomore years I was so worried about whether I was being recruited that I wasn’t focused in my own head. I’ve been so successful this year, I think, because now I’m not worrying about how well I perform, or who I’m better or worse than [as a potential recruit]. Now it’s just about having fun and hitting the ball as hard as I can every time up.
“I took a break over the summer and didn’t play any travel ball. I think that had a big impact on my ability to stay focused on the present now. I just want to finish off my senior year strong.”
Haack didn’t lift weights or do anything dramatic physically to influence her power surge. She only hit one home run as a freshman, and one as a sophomore, and as a young player has always hit more for average than for power, usually from the leadoff position in the lineup.
Extended work with her private hitting coach, Aiden Falk, however, has prompted her to embrace the current offensive philosophy that puts an emphasis on launch angle, from the major leagues down to the high school level.
“Aiden’s the one who taught me how important launch angle is,” said Haack. “Instead of just trying to hit the top of the ball, you try to hit a certain part of it – with spin – to let it fly.
“But to be honest, when I’m in a game I really don’t think much about it. I just try to hit it as hard as I can. My mindset now is a lot more solid. The confidence I have now comes from my batting average, not from the home runs. Hitting more often is more important than hitting home runs. When it goes over the fence, it just feels like a normal thing to me.”
Haack homered against GBS starter Sami Nash (second inning) and reliever Emily Shim (fourth inning) and also collected a pair of singles and a couple of stolen bases.
She received the ultimate compliment from GBS head coach Dana Boehmer with the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday. With first base occupied and no outs, Boehmer gave Haack the Barry Bonds treatment – an intentional walk that pushed the potential game-tying run to second base.
That baserunner, Kelsey Blickenstaff, eventually scored the tying run on Katy Patton’s bases loaded sacrifice fly and neither team scored in the eighth.
Senior Crystal Rodriguez socked a two-run homer earlier in that seventh inning uprising, her first extra base hit of the season, and Serafina Goodwill also hit a two-run homer for the hosts, who trailed 11-6 after the Titans poured across six runs in their half of the sixth.
South’s Maddie Kapsimalis hit her second homer of the game in that frame and ETHS committed three costly errors to help the visitors take the lead.
Evanston stroked 14 hits in the marathon that lasted through at least four separate graduation ceremonies at nearby Lazier Field. Another senior, Lucia Goldberg, went 2-for-5 with three runs-batted-in.