They’re in the same graduating class – Class of 2025 – at Evanston Township High School, but until just recently Delila Liston and Isabelle Anthony never played on the same softball squad.

ETHS catcher Delila Liston behind the plate. Credit: Mark Brokowski

And the working relationship between the sophomore battery – catcher Liston and pitcher Anthony – is still a work in progress for the Wildkits.

But the pair combined to produce Evanston’s second straight victory Saturday, a 10-2 triumph over visiting Rolling Meadows, and could provide a real spark once they’re plugged in and connected as a battery.

Anthony, a sophomore making her first varsity start on the mound, scattered seven hits and struck out eight to collect her first victory and Liston continued her torrid hitting with a single, triple, home run and four runs batted in.

Saturday marked the first time in three years that ETHS has managed back-to-back regular season wins. That might not seem like much of an accomplishment, unless you consider that the current squad features only one senior (outfielder Kelsey Blickenstaff) in the starting lineup. But both sophomores are convinced the program’s struggles are a thing of the past and they’re looking forward, not backward, after the Kits improved to 2-5 on the season.

ETHS pitcher Isabelle Anthony winds up from the mound. Credit: Mark Brokowski

Anthony was promoted from the junior varsity squad a couple of weeks ago when staff ace Serafina Goodwill was sidelined with a quad injury, in an effort to provide more pitching depth behind Goodwill and another sophomore, Maya Nelson. And Anthony replaced Goodwill in the starting role Saturday when Goodwill was plagued with a finger injury and couldn’t start.

The right-hander’s changeup was effective, and so was her fastball, as six of her strikeouts came via called third strikes. She only walked two and mowed the Mustangs down in every inning except the fourth, when they reached her for a couple of singles and a double and tallied both of their runs.

“I was surprised when they told me I was going to be pulled up to practice with the varsity, and I was nervous today,” Anthony said. “But my changeup was really working today and so was my fastball. I’m proud of myself. I thought I did a good job and I’m excited about being on the varsity.

“I struggled with my consistency last year and I thought I’d just be a backup [on the mound and at second base] for the varsity. This is a good experience for me, to see what being on the varsity feels like.”

Although assistant coach Shannon Roney calls pitches from the dugout, Liston said after the contest that she and her new batterymate were on the same page for the entire contest.

“I’m much more comfortable catching Maya [Nelson] because I’ve caught her for years,” Liston said. “We’re still looking to gain trust between us, between me and Isabelle. Coach Roney has been working with us to try to connect the dots. I’m not used to catching her yet, but today she used lots of changes and drops really well, and as long as she keeps doing what she’s doing, I know we’re going to connect.”

Wildkit Delila Liston has been comfortable on offense this season. Credit: Mark Brokowski

Liston, who hit a pair of doubles and walked twice in Friday’s win at Niles North, has appeared much more comfortable on offense in her second varsity season. She started at shortstop as a freshman on the varsity, but the move back behind the plate and the fact that head coach Amy Gonzales dropped her further down in the batting order has helped the sophomore standout relax.

“As a freshman, I really didn’t know what to expect and I had to figure out how to deal with a lot of things,” Liston said. “I got into my own head way too much playing shortstop and it spooked me when I batted leadoff, too. Wherever they put me, I’m just happy to be in the lineup, but I think the switch back to catcher has been good for me.

“And hitting farther down gives me a chance to be more comfortable and see what pitchers are trying to do against my teammates first.”

“I thought Isabelle did a great job for us today,” Gonzales said. “We needed another pitcher and you can never have too much pitching. She showed good speed and good movement, and what I like about her is the way she’s so no-nonsense out there. She doesn’t overthink things at all, even in situations where it can be easy to let things get to her.

Delila Liston hit a two-run homer and a triple on Saturday against Rolling Meadows. Credit: Mark Brokowski

“I don’t know if Delila was feeling pressure batting at the top, but she seems a little more at ease now [in the No. 3 slot]. We wanted to get her more comfortable because she’s such a good hitter. And she’s a d— good catcher too!

“There’s still so much for both of them to learn – but the talent is there.”

Liston only missed hitting for the cycle because she walked in her other plate appearance against Rolling Meadows pitcher Sam McQueen. She tagged a two-run home run over the left field fence in the first inning, walked and scored in the second, beat out an infield hit and then tripled home a couple of runs in the fifth.

As a team, Evanston collected double-figure hits (11) for the second straight game. Nelson contributed a bunt single and an RBI double for the winners.

“We’ve had a rough start to the season, but I think some of it was just a carryover from last year,” Liston said. “We’re picking up speed now. If we believe in ourselves, I know we can do well as a team.”

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