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Article updated: 5/6/2013 9:50 PM

With Abello out, pressure on Benet

By Joshua Welge

Benet is about to play a game of musical chairs no softball team wishes for.

That's after sophomore catcher Stephanie Abello hurt her wrist Saturday at Marian Catholic when she banged into a fence chasing a pop-up.

A trainer on site thought the wrist could be broken, but X-rays that evening came back negative. Abello will likely go for an MRI Tuesday.

Needless to say, her loss shakes up Benet's lineup.

Maeve McGuire, who moved to first base from center field earlier in the season when Molly Moran's injury put Emily York on the mound, played catcher on Saturday for the first time since she was 12 years old.

Benet coach Jerry Schilf could put McGuire behind the plate full time but hesitates to leave a void at first base. A more likely scenario is moving Julianne Rurka, a more natural catcher, from third base and putting Jessica Brown at third.

"My philosophy is to weaken myself at as few positions as possible, rather than moving a bunch of kids around," Schilf said. "I've had the luxury of having good ballplayers at key positions, and people natural to those positions. It's going to be a day-to-day process to figure this out."

Schilf was told Abello's pain went from a "10" Saturday to a "4" Monday. Too early to say, but it's possible the injury could just be a bad bruise.

More than the defense is the hole Abello's loss leaves in the batting order.

Abello leads the area in homers with 11 and runs batted in with 44, and she is hitting .600. The injury comes at an inopportune time, too, with seven games in six days this week capped by a Saturday doubleheader against unbeaten conference leader Bishop McNamara.

"We have some standout stars, but we need all the talent from those kids to plug that one hole," Schilf said. "We have to be more of a team now than we've ever been."

Willowbrook bounces back:

What a difference a week made for Willowbrook.

Starting on April 22, the Warriors went through a difficult 0-4 stretch over six days. In getting swept at York, Willowbrook managed just 1 run.

But the switch seemed to flip back on last week. The Warriors went 4-0, hitting 5 homers in a win over Leyden and 4 more against Hinsdale South. Alyssa Ressinger hit a pair against Leyden and Ressinger, Sam Schmidt, Darian Pelsor and Jordan Marczewski went deep versus Hinsdale South. On the mound Pelsor struck out 12 against Leyden and 10 versus Addison Trail.

"It's easier for Darian to pitch when she knows we're hitting," Willowbrook coach Rachel Karos said. "There was a week where we were just not aggressive, afraid to take chances. If you look at us last week we were hitting the snot out of the ball, which we can do."

Perhaps the weight of expectations caught up to Willowbrook.

Hopes were as high as any in recent memory in Villa Park after a 20-win 2012 season, and a 5-0 start to this spring did nothing to dissipate that.

What cannot be overlooked is this is still a young team. Schmidt, Ressinger, catcher Erin Sporer and second baseman Cheyenne Brunig are all sophomores and Marczewski a freshman.

"Maybe we had a target on our back after the start we had," Karos said, "but we still have nothing to lose."

Willowbrook (12-7, 5-2 West Suburban Gold) still controls its own destiny in the Gold.

The Warriors play Morton this week, then on May 15 are at Downers Grove South for two, including the resumption of a suspended game.

"For two weeks I kind of feel like I was believing more than they were, but I think they're back," Karos said. "I think we're at our best when we're a little bit goofy, staying loose. We're in this together. It's a simple game when you break it down."

Redhawks, by the numbers:

Here's a stat that indicates just how well pitchers Keegan Hayes and Julie Kestas, and leadoff hitter Maddi Doane have played this year for No. 1 and 25-0 Naperville Central. Hayes and Kestas have surrendered a combined 28 runs. That's 2 less than the 30 Doane has scored.

Young Dukes coming of age:

York got off to an inauspicious start to its season, going 0-4 out of the gate. The Dukes stood at 7-9 after getting no-hit by Downers Grove North's Elaine Heflin on April 26.

Since then, Drew McGuire's young Dukes have responded.

York ripped off six straight wins before a tough 5-4 walk-off loss to Glenbard South on Saturday. Keying the run is a nice crop of young hitters. Freshman catcher Abby Solem has her average up to .397 and is leading the Dukes in RBI with 21. Fellow freshman Isabella Jaeger, hitting in the No. 2 hole, is at .359 and hit a walkoff homer to beat Glenbard West last Monday. And sophomore Sarah Milkowski is hitting .386.

"Our hitting is finally picking up," McGuire said. "The young girls, our freshmen and sophomores have been doing phenomenal and Brooke (Bandy) has been lights-out on the mound."

At the center of it all is lefty leadoff hitter Angela Scalzitti.

Committed to DePaul, Scalzitti is hitting .548 with 23 stolen bases. McGuire noted that Scalzitti's bat control is some of the best he's seen and her reads on balls in the outfield is "unbelievable."

"When she can put the ball in play it really fuels our offense," McGuire said. "She's one of the best outfielders I've seen."

The Dukes are still looking for a signature win, coming close against some of the area's best teams. They have 1-run losses this spring to Naperville Central, Glenbard South and Downers Grove North. Still, it's a program to watch going forward.

Games to watch this week:

Glenbard North at Naperville Central, Wednesday: The Redhawks can clinch at least a share of their first DVC title since 1989 with a win Tuesday versus Wheaton North and a win here.

Glenbard South vs. Marengo, Friday: A rematch of last year's Class 3A final won by Glenbard South, these two meet again under the lights at Bandits Stadium.

Bishop McNamara at Benet, Saturday: Benet probably will need to sweep this home doubleheader to repeat as East Suburban Catholic Conference champ.

Follow Josh on Twitter @jwelge96

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