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updated: 6/7/2012 11:50 AM

Grayslake North's Gandy was in her element

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  • Grayslake North's Kristi Gandy regularly revealed her will to win on the softball diamond. Here she delivers during the Knights' Class 3A sectional championship effort against Prairie Ridge in Lake Villa.

       Grayslake North's Kristi Gandy regularly revealed her will to win on the softball diamond. Here she delivers during the Knights' Class 3A sectional championship effort against Prairie Ridge in Lake Villa.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

It's not always about the "W" (tungsten). Kristi Gandy probably doesn't care about her ERA, but quiz her about "Er" (erbium).

And you got to have "O" (oxygen), no?

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Now that she's finished wearing Grayslake North's Vegas "Au" (gold) and black, she's taking her "Al" (aluminum) bat and heavier-than-"Pb" (lead) fastball to Lake Forest College.

"I was thinking (about studying) either chemistry or business," Gandy said.

Kristi Gandy: chemist.

That might look cool in a "Ne" (neon) sign.

"I just really enjoy that class," she said of chemistry.

Based on the chemistry that she and her Grayslake North softball teammates developed the last couple of years, Gandy might be already halfway to a degree.

The best player on a Knights squad that won a school-record 22 games in 2011, Gandy wasn't satisfied with her own season nor that of her team's, apparently. The student kept learning, kept getting better, and her team followed suit.

All Grayslake North did this spring was win the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division championship for the first time in its six-year history, capture its second straight regional title and first sectional crown, and finish with 25 victories. No Knight shined brighter than Gandy again.

The senior is the captain of the Daily Herald's Lake County All-Area softball team after dominating both at the plate (.547 batting average, 9 homers, 59 RBI, .602 on-base percentage, .897 slugging percentage) and in the pitching circle (1.08 ERA, 213 strikeouts).

"She's definitely been the strong suit of our team, with both her pitching and hitting," said Knights catcher Brooke Tracy, who, like Gandy, was a four-year varsity starter. "Without her, our defense wouldn't be nearly as strong."

What was dandy about Gandy was her poise. She walked 11 batters in the Knights' final two games -- a win over Prairie Ridge and a loss to defending Class 3A state champ Marengo -- but she routinely got big outs when she needed them to prevent further damage.

"She has that look in her eye that she's going to get the job done for us," coach Molly Jones said after the Knights' sectional-final win over Prairie Ridge. "She has all year for us."

Ken Krause saw the competitive fire and talent in Gandy when she started taking pitching lessons from him some eight years ago.

"She was a good pitcher from the time she was very young," said Krause, a Mundelein resident. "At 10, she was pretty dominant and threw the ball hard and had great command of the strike zone. She was really good as far as listening, working at it and trying to improve herself."

Gandy could blow hitters away with heavy heat, but showing off her right arm was never a priority.

"I enjoy throwing the screw, curve, change and drop," she said.

The fastball?

"I don't like to throw it," said Gandy, whose smiling face changed drastically, as if she just bit into a sour apple. "That's the pitch that goes the farthest."

"Her best pitch?" Tracy said. "It depends on the day. Her curveball, though, I love that. She's been working on her changeup really hard. It's showing."

The Knights' season ended one win shy of a berth of downstate. Gandy walked six Marengo batters and hit one. But she battled and showed her composure by continually working out of jams.

Call it a "Ag" (silver) lining.

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