After suffering its first loss at Buffalo Grove despite hitting 3 home runs on Friday, Conant's softball players apparently decided they had to be a little stronger Saturday.
So less than 24 hours later, the Cougars crushed 4 homers and got right back on track with an 11-5 victory over visiting Fremd in the Mid-Suburban West contest in Hoffman Estates.
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"The biggest factor about that loss is that we were able to see success and then failure this season as a team," said Cougars standout third baseman Rachel O'Malley, who will wear her glove for Indiana next year.
"I was on the team two years ago that went undefeated in the conference and that just puts a lot of pressure on you. It was nice to have a game right back the next day to get back on track."
The warning track became common ground for Fremd outfielders, who raced to the fence but could only watch balls leave the park by O'Malley, Hailey Rothstein and two by DeeDee Durr, who also hit a pair of homers against Lake Park earlier this season.
The Cougars even slugged a few to the fence, like the one hit by Dream Aaron in the sixth inning which was smartly hauled in by left fielder Abby Iuorio 199 feet from home plate.
"Their kids can hit, we knew that coming in," said Fremd coach Jim Weaver. "It wasn't a secret."
The Cougars (13-1, 7-1) are showing some of the best power in school history, now totaling 29 homers in only 14 games.
Durr has nine. It was O'Malley's fourth and third for Rothstein.
"And I think three of the four were on 0-2 counts so we've got to get better there," said Weaver, who used Joanna Josten (9-5), Hailey Goodwin and Lea Barrett on the mound. "But I'm proud of the way our kids played. I thought we played great in six of the seven innings. What hurt us is that we blinked for one inning. You've got to play seven."
Weaver was referring to the Cougars' fourth, coincidentally the only inning where Conant scored and did not hit a home run.
It started with Telly Hunter's infield single followed by Rothstein's sharp single to right center. Freshman shortstop Lauren Grzelak reached on an error to load the bases.
The Vikings (14-6, 4-3) got the first out when first baseman Lauren Vanhavermaet fielded a grounder and tossed home to catcher Holly Straup for the force.
But then Rothstein (2-for-3) scored on a wild pitch for the first run before O'Malley belted a 2-run triple to left for the 7-2 lead. O'Malley came home on Aaron's single to left, making it 8-2.
"Our team has really matured," said O'Malley, who went 3-for-4 with the homer, triple and 2 RBI and also sparkled in the field. "We're 12 deep. Everyone can fill in and take the pressure off someone else. We made a lot of errors the day before so we wanted to give our pitching support."
The Cougars also showed their support to TJ Valacak, the Fremd assistant softball coach who has been battling leukemia.
The Cougars presented a poster which was hung in the Fremd dugout stating 'In fighting against leukemia, we're all on the same team.'
All the players wore orange ribbons, the symbol for leukemia.
"That was a classy move by Cathyann and Conant," Weaver said. "We really appreciate it as TJ has been battling and it's in remission. We can't wait see him back."
Both teams stood together around home plate for a photo after the game in a show of support for TJ.
Durr (3-for-4, 4 RBI) got the home run parade going in the bottom of the first with a one-out solo blast over the right field fence.
Molly Muh's RBI double to right scored Straup, who had singled to center to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the second.
The Cougars answered with 3 runs in the bottom of the inning, as Hunter (2-for-3) singled to right center in front of an outstretched glove of the diving center fielder Alyssa Garcia.
Rothstein followed with a towering 2-run blast over the right field fence.
With two outs, Elissa Ambrose singled and went to second on an error on the play. She came home on Durr's double to center for a 4-1 lead.
Garcia cut the lead in half when with a one-out homer to center in the third inning.
Then came the Cougars' 4-run fourth inning that made it 8-2.
The Vikes, though, cut the lead in half again with 2 runs in the fifth on a two-out RBI double to shallow right center by Leigh Farina and an RBI single to right by Tracy Welninski.
Conant added its final 3 runs in sixth, getting back-to -back homers by Durr (2-run blast to right) and the solo shot to center by O'Malley.
Durr now has 3 homer in the last 8 innings the Cougars have played.
"We continued to hit like we did against Buffalo Grove (Aaron had 2 homers and Durr one)," Smith said. "But we knew we had to make fewer errors. It was nice to get a win heading into our conference schedule for next week."
Sophomore Sara Neuman got the win with an 8-hitter and 4 strikeouts, improving to 6-0 for the season.