St. Edward senior Kali Kossakowski has never needed a GPS to find her way around the bases after hitting a home run. Her Green Wave classmate Kristi Kroll, on the other hand, had never seen a softball leave her bat and end up on the other side of an outfield fence.
Until Saturday that is.
Kossakowski's solo shot over the center field fence proved to be the game-winning run as St. Edward came from behind to beat Rosary 4-3 in Suburban Christian Conference action at the Elgin Sports Complex. It came in the fifth inning, after Kroll had given the Green Wave a 3-2 lead with a 3-run shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the fourth. It was the first high school home run for Kroll, a three-year varsity player.
"I'm really excited about it," said a smiling Kroll, who also made a diving catch in left field. "I was pretty proud I got a home run, especially with two strikes. It really helps for the rest of the season and will keep my confidence up."
While Kroll's blast gave the Green Wave (4-2, 1-0) the lead, it was a brief lead.
Rosary, which had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning by scoring 2 runs on a wild pitch that resulted in a throwing error, tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth when senior leadoff hitter Kates Groom beat out an infield single with two outs, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single up the middle from freshman Emma Molenhouse.
That set the stage for Kossakowski, the NIU recruit, to give the Wave the lead back. With one out in the bottom of the inning, she jacked a 3-2 pitch 230 feet over the center field fence.
"I'm really just aiming for line drives," said Kossakowski, who now has 3 homers this season. "I look at the gaps and I really just want to get on base because I know the people behind me can drive me in."
With the lead, the Green Wave had to rely on some nifty defense to pull out the win for freshman Lindsay Zdroik.
Junior Samantha Phelps led off the top of the sixth for the Royals (2-3, 1-1 with a double to the fence in center and took third on Cara Smoczynski's groundout. Then, on a grounder to second by Katherine White, St. Edward senior Ashley Gradisher threw out Phelps at the plate.
Zdroik then retired Rosary's last four hitters to secure the win for St. Edward. Sophomore Megan Strong made a basket catch of Jessica Wade's windblown fly ball with one out in the seventh and Zdroik got Lexi Lovetere to pop out to short to end the game. Zdroik gave up 6 hits with 4 strikeouts, 1 walk and 1 hit batter in running her record to 2-2. The 2 Rosary runs were unearned, lowering her ERA to 1.13 for the season.
"Kristi and Kali really came through for us big-time today," said St. Edward coach Jaci Corn of her two seniors, who had each had 2 hits. "We stepped up the defense from our previous games and Lindsay continues to show how tough she can be."
Molenhouse, who had 2 hits, took the loss for Rosary. She allowed 5 hits and had 6 strikeouts and 1 walk.
"We've been giving up a lot of runs on errors and today we didn't have any," said Rosary coach John Kazmierczak. "Those two (home runs) were literally pop ups on a regular day. The disappointing thing is our bats haven't been going yet. We've got to get our offense straightened out. We've got 6-7 kids who can hit the ball we're just not hitting it right now."
The game was St. Edward's fourth this week but first outside. The Wave went 2-1 playing in The Dome at The Ballpark in Rosemont. In fact, it was just St. Edward's second time on a field this season.
"We're not used to being on a field," said Kossakowski. "We've never had a practice on a field yet so I'm really proud of our defense for doing as good as we did today."
And Corn continues to be impressed with the resiliency her team has shown in the young season.
"Everyone stayed focused and kept fighting until the end, so I'm proud of everyone," she said. "It's good to kick off the conference season with a win against a good team. Now we have to keep the pace and continue the hard work."