New South Elgin softball coach Stephanie Katzenberger didn't really need much help giving her battery a scouting report on Wednesday's season-opening opponent.
The Storm traveled to Rosemont to open the season against Oak Lawn, the program Katzenberger coached in for the past seven years, at The Dome at The Ballpark, and South Elgin dominated the Spartans, sweeping a doubleheader 12-0 and 9-2.
And even though she may not know future opponents as well as she did Wednesday's, Katzenberger has a built-in safety valve in that department with senior pitchers Paige Allen and Taylor Rees throwing to senior catcher and James Madison signee Alyssa Buddle.
Allen tossed a 3-hitter in Game 1 Wednesday and Rees got the win in Game 2, each benefiting from a Storm offense that rapped out 20 hits for the day.
"It's like a tag team with the two of them," said Katzenberger of Allen and Buddle after Game 1. "Their pitch selection was dead on. Most impressed with Paige Allen. Her pitch selection was great."
Allen, who pitched the Storm to a regional championship last year, knows she's fortunate to have a future Division I catcher calling the game for her, and she was glad to finally away from the South Elgin gym and parking lot.
"It's nice to see a real infield and outfield instead of a parking lot or gym and it was nice not to face my own hitters," said Allen, who struck out 3 and didn't walk a batter. "I just came in with a mentality that I need to prove to everybody I'm going to be a pitcher here this year. I worked hard during the winter and I feel really comfortable throwing to (Buddle). She reads my mind and mixes things up really well. I'm really confident pitching to her."
The Storm hit Oak Lawn with a 5-spot in the second inning and never looked back, scoring all their runs with two outs in the inning. Sam Helton walked and Allen reached on a sacrifice bunt that also turned into an error. The next two batters struck out but Demi Queen was hit with a pitch to load the bases and keep the inning going. Mallory Mecklenburg drew a walk to force in a run and Rachel Ziemba's single made it 2-0 before sophomore Cassidy Westlund delivered a bases-clearing triple to the base of the 235-foot fence in right-center field to put the Storm up 5-0.
Alexa Rogalla drove in a run in the third inning to make it 6-0 and the Storm added 6 more in the fourth. Buddle doubled in a run, Helton singled in two and Taylor Ford doubled in two all before Mecklenburg ripped a shot down the right-field line and scampered around the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
"When they're on, the ball just pops off their bats," said Katzenberger of her hitters.
Game 2 was much of the same. Westlund went 2-for-4 with an inside-the-park homer, Rogalla was 3-for-4 and Buddle and Allen had 2 hits each.
"The offense is what I wanted to see," Katzenberger said. "Paige looked fantastic and Rees and Ziemba worked at being thoughtful about their pitch selection. Buddle keeps them on the same page and that page is usually the right one."
Huntley splits: After dropping its morning game at The Dome to DeKalb 3-2, Huntley came back to beat Freeport 14-8, scoring 6 runs in the final two innings.
Shannon Walsh had a monster game against the Pretzels, going 6-for-6 with 2 RBI and 3 stolen bases. Megan Larson was 2-for-4 with a home run, triple and 2 RBI, Jessica Shields went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and Tamara Funke was 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI for the Red Raiders.
Haley Spannraft picked up the win with 5⅓ innings of 3-hit relief.
Against DeKalb, Spannraft didn't allow an earned run but the Raiders (1-2) committed 3 costly errors. Spannraft struck out 6 and walked 1.
Shields had a triple and Taylor Stone an RBI for Huntley.