Outside -- at last -- and the Wauconda softball team took full advantage of the opportunity Saturday in Elgin.
The Bulldogs pounded out 32 hits and got solid pitching and defense all day as they swept a nonconference doubleheader from Larkin, 13-4 and 17-2.
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"Our hitting wasn't as strong as it could have been last year and that's what we've been working on," said Wauconda senior catcher Alex Kinnamon, who was 3-for-5 with a double and 2 RBI in Game 1. "We've got a solid infield, outfield and pitching this year and we're very confident."
In Game 1, Wauconda took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when winning pitcher Lexie Redmann led off with a bunt single, went all the way to third on Kennedy Wright's sacrifice bunt and then scored on a groundout from Megan Luchowski.
The Bulldogs then erupted for 6 runs in the second inning as Wedl, Wright, Luchowski, Kinnamon and freshman Brooke Sefcik all drove in runs.
After Wauconda scored twice in the third to make it a 9-0 game, Larkin bounced back in the bottom of the inning with a 3-run home run to dead center field from senior Alex Buhrow. But Redmann had a 2-run single and Wright drove in a run in the fourth and senior Emily Holub had an RBI single in the top of the seventh for Wauconda. Larkin added an unearned run in the fifth.
Redmann had 6 strikeouts and only 1 walk in the win, while sophomore Sarah Hansen was the losing pitcher for Larkin.
"We did some good things running and taking extra bases," said Wauconda coach Tim Rennels. "That's a big theme of ours this year. It puts pressure on the defense."
Wauconda (2-1) had another big inning to fuel the win in Game 2, scoring 9 runs in the third. Sefcik had 2 home runs in the game, one a grand slam, and 6 RBI. Lauren Nee had 3 hits including 2 doubles and Alyssa Wagner was 2-for-3. Wedl was the winner, striking out 9 and allowing no walks. Jaclyn Saurbaugh took the loss for Larkin (0-3, while Beka Harrington, Buhrow and Sam Wahl had hits for the Royals and Buhrow drove in both Larkin runs.
Days like Saturday will certainly help the Bulldogs' confidence, while Larkin coach Anne Vogt realizes she has to take baby steps with a young team lacking varsity experience, but also Vogt believes, in need of more desire.
"You can't teach hustle and you can't teach effort," Vogt said. "You have to have the desire. This is a scrappy enthusiastic group but once the umpire says play ball it's like we've never done it before. We have to step it up. We're young as far as new kids to the varsity. Some still have the jitters and aren't confident in their position. We're thankful we've got three games in and we can learn from the mistakes we've made and move forward."
Vogt did see a couple positives despite the losses.
"We were able to score a few runs and Alex's (home run) was so sweet," Vogt said. "Sam Wahl hit the ball well today and I'm excited about Jaclyn Saurbaugh. I love her attitude right now."