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updated: 5/12/2014 10:29 PM

Valacak's return a big win for Fremd

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When the softball game between Fremd and Schaumburg was suspended due to lightning on Monday, the Saxons were holding a 4-3 lead with the Vikings batting in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The hosts had their catcher, Holly Straup, standing on second base after a leadoff double and there was one out when the home plate umpire halted the Mid-Suburban West softball contest.

But no matter what the score ends up, the Vikings are not going to come out losers in this game.

The best news of the day for them was seeing former assistant coach TJ Valacak in the dugout.

It was his first time back on the diamond since he began battling Leukemia last fall.

Until this spring, TJ had been coach Jim Weaver's right hand man for 13 of his 14 years directing one of the most successful programs in the state.

"He was my outfield coach for two years and it was so great to see him," said Vikes senior right fielder Kayla Kaufman, who belted her sixth homer of the season and fourth in four games. "We were all so excited and all pretty much broke out in tears."

"No matter what happened in the game it didn't matter because we all miss him so much," said Fremd senior second baseman Tracy Welninski. "He's a big part of our team."

Valacak will be honored when the Palatine and Fremd softball teams will wear orange 'Blood-borne Cancer Day' T-shirts at their game next Monday on the Pirates field .

"It was awesome," Weaver said of TJ's visit to the dugout Monday. "We miss him so much and the girls were really excited to see him. It was wonderful."

Fremd gained a 1-0 advantage in the second inning when Julie Josten singled up the middle with one out to score Welninski (2-for-2, walk).

The Saxons scored all their runs in the third inning in which the first seven batters reached base, six with hits, including an RBI double by pitcher Shannon Felde (2-for-4).

Catcher Elaine Walker and shortstop Christina Candotti also went 2-for-4 for the Saxons, who came into the game with a record of 17-7 and 9-3 in the MSL West.

Weaver brought Lea Barrett to the mound in the third inning with no outs.

After an RBI single by Natalie Napier, the junior right-hander got two flyouts to center fielder Alyssa Garcia and a strikeout to end the inning.

Barrett went on to throw four scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and another strikeout.

The Vikings, who came into the game at 17-8 and 8-4, pulled to within 4-3 in the sixth inning.

Welninski led off with a line drive single to left.

Kaufman, a North Park recruit, then belted her towering 2-run blast over the center field fence.

Felde prevented any further damage by striking out two of the next three batters and getting a groundout to second baseman Roxanne Kakareka.

Leigh Farina led off the Vikings' sixth inning with a single to right and stole second. Welninski followed with walk but Felde escaped with 2 strikeouts and a groundout to third baseman Napier.

Straup's double led off the seventh before the next batter popped out to catcher Elaine Walker.

That's where game was suspended.

"Our girls put the ball in play," said Schaumburg coach Ellen Abreu. "And we played good defense."

Eight Saxons had a hit, including Paige Alt and Sarah Schwind.

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