After two innings in Evanston’s softball opener Tuesday, Serafina Goodwill’s earned run average stood at 0.00.
But it wasn’t the return that the junior pitcher envisioned after missing an entire season with a knee injury. She still trailed Palatine 7-1 as the Wildkits went on to fall 11-5 to the Pirates on the road in their 2023 debut.
The Wildkits yielded a total of eight unearned runs in the six-inning contest that was called due to darkness. Evanston will play its home opener on Thursday at 4:45 p.m. against Mundelein Carmel.
Goodwill, who missed her sophomore season after surgery due to a knee injury from club volleyball, couldn’t shake off a year and a half of rust on the mound. She didn’t get much help from the ETHS defense, either, as errors by third baseman Aayna Ghose and left fielder Amanda Nelson helped the Pirates push across four runs in the first inning and three more in the second.
Goodwill’s command was missing in the first, when she issued five walks. She allowed one run in the third and two more in the fifth and yielded 10 hits, six walks and one hit batsman in her 2023 debut.
Head coach Amy Gonzales noted that her young squad had only two days of practice outside because of frigid and wet weather. And Evanston’s starting lineup featured three players making their first varsity starts, including freshman shortstop Sophie Berger-White, who went 3-for-3 at the plate and drove in a run batting cleanup.
Another highlight for the losers was the defensive play of sophomore catcher Delila Liston, who threw out two runners trying to steal second base and also tossed out Palatine’s Sammie Kendrick at the plate on a potential wild pitch.
But it all added up to a loss.
“All of the things that happened to us today are fixable,” Gonzales said. “Part of the equation was that it’s our first game and against a good team, too. It’s not a lack of ability, just not having the confidence yet to make plays. We just need to make the routine plays out there, because if we do that, it’s a different game.
“I thought it was a good game for Serafina for not having pitched in over a year. All those walks might have been a domino effect from the plays we didn’t make. Once she settled in, I thought she pitched pretty well.”
Evanston scored in the second, third and fourth innings and totaled nine hits on the day. Ghose whacked a leadoff single in the second and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch from Palatine starter Paige LaSalle. LaSalle was touched for more runs in the third after consecutive singles by Rosie Witt, Goodwill and White loaded the bases with no outs.
Witt scored when Charlie Henderson bounced into a forceout. Pinch-runner Kelsey Blickenstaff swiped home on the back end of a double steal try with Henderson, and Henderson herself tallied on a two-out wild pitch that allowed the Wildkits to claw their way back to 7-4.
That was as close as they got as the second Pirates’ hurler, Holly Stefus, pretty much slammed the door on any comeback hopes. An RBI single by White did the only damage against Stefus in the last three innings before darkness fell.
Sorry for the Varsity girls’ softball loss.
Those of us at the Varsity girls’ soccer 2nd win (3-1 over Stevenson) on Monday were thrilled and excited with prospects of a winning season and for Varsity softball as well!