Elk Grove all-area softball player Jessica Balzano wears the same No. 4 on her jersey that her mother sported as a standout softball player at Prospect in the 1980s.
And this spring, Jessica has moved into the middle infield, just like her mother Denise when she was an all-area shortstop for the Knights.
After playing in right field the past two seasons, Jessica is now handling second base for the Grenadiers.
She also handles the bat quite well.
The junior leadoff slugger went 7-for-8 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles in Saturday's nonconference doubleheader sweep of visiting Niles West.
The Grenadiers won 7-2 and 12-0 in five innings.
Balzano was 3-for-4 in Game 1 with 3 runs, including a double.
Then she belted 2 homers and another double in Game 2 when she was 4-for-4 with 5 RBI and 3 runs.
"I love her in the infield," said sophomore Dani Goranson (4-1), who fired a 2-hitter in Game 2. "She's always talking behind me and encouraging everyone."
After back-to-back tough losses to Glenbrook South and York, Balzano said everyone was talking more in Saturday's doubleheader.
"I thought everyone was talking more and everyone believed," said Balzano, who also plays second base for her summer travel team. "At times, I miss right field. But I like all the action at second base."
There was plenty of action in the Grens' bats Saturday.
Other top hitters in Game 1 were senior Olivia Roback (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 doubles, 2 RBI) and sophomore Devan Parkison (2-for-3, 4 RBI), who belted her first career home run in the first inning.
The two-out blast over the left-center field fence brought home Roback, who had doubled home Balzano.
The Grens added 3 more runs in third on a one-out, 2-run single by Parkison and another RBI double by Roback that scored Balzano.
Sophomore Megan Keegan added a double for Elk Grove
Senior Stephanie Maday (3-1) earned the win with 12 strikeouts and 1 walk.
In Game 2, Goranson struck out eight and walked one.
Senior Amanda Gattone got the Grens rolling in the nightcap when she belted a two-out, 2-run single to left scoring sophomore Megan Keegan (2-for-4, 1 run, RBI) and Roback (3-for-3, home run, 3 runs, 2 RBI) for a 2-0 lead.
"That was a very important hit by Amanda to get us going," said Elk Grove coach Ken Grams, whose team is in a span of playing eight games in eight days. "We had a tough week (with 2 losses) so it was important to come back and get on the winning side, given that conference begins Monday (Grens are at Palatine at 4:30 p.m.)."
Elk Grove sophomore Rebecca Walz also clubbed a homer in Game 2. while junior Kristen Cetkovic had a triple.
Palatine quad: Leyden defeated Palatine 13-5 in the semifinals, then fell 4-1 to Jacobs in the championship.
Eagles sophomore Morgan Maize (4-0) threw a 7-hitter against Palatine and went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and a run. She struck out five and walked none while allowing only 1 earned run against Palatine.
Other top hitters for the Eagles (7-1) were Christina Morgan (3-5, double, 1 run), Amanda Moran (2-5, double,2 runs), April Markowski (3-4, 2 doubles, 3 runs, 2 RBI), Dana Thomas (2-4, 2 runs, RBI) and Dana Sullivan (2-4, double, triple, 3 RBI, 1 run).
Palatine (6-4) was led by Katie Mnichowicz (2-for-4, double), Alyx Ballenger (1-for-4, double) and Sam Salomone (2-for-4, 2 doubles).
Against Jacobs, Leyden sophomore pitcher Hannah Seymore (2-1) recorded 4 strikeouts. April Markowski (3-4, 1 RBI), Gaby Budzon (1-3) and Morgan (1-for-4, triple, 1 run) led the offense.
Palatine defeated Glenbrook North 7-0 for third place as junior Dani Boisvert earned the win.
Mnichowicz (3-for-4, double), Ballenger (2-for-3), Salomone (3-for-4) and Melissa Serio (2-for-3) led the Pirates' offense.
Stevenson sweeps Hersey: Stevenson won both ends of the twin bill in Arlington Heights 7-1 and 11-1 in five innings over the Huskies (3-6).
Downers Grove North sweeps Prospect: Elaine Heflin had her no-hitter broken up with two outs in the seventh inning as the host Trojans (4-3) won the opener 4-0 over the Knights (1-5).
In Game 2, Kendal Ryndak tossed a 3-hitter with 9 strikeouts as DGN prevailed 10-1.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.