Addison Trail had plenty of reasons to let Monday's softball season opener slip away, yet the Blazers saved plenty of runs for the end and came away with a nice start to their new campaign.
The host Blazers fell behind West Chicago 5-1 in the third inning after a slew of walks and wild pitches allowed the Wildcats to tally five runs with just one hit. Then after Addison Trail managed to tie the game at 5-5, the visitors scored twice to take a 7-5 lead in the top of the sixth on a very cold early spring afternoon.
Despite the weather the Blazers proved they were in no hurry to get home and in no hurry to end the contest. They sent 15 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth while scoring 10 times to take a 15-7 lead on their way to a 15-9 victory.
"The offense, it was great, and we fought through the cold," said junior Sophia Hawkins, who scored three runs, including two trips across the plate in the big sixth inning. "At first we were a little down and we didn't score as many runs. Toward the end of the game we really pulled through and scored runs. It was awesome."
Addison Trail had six hits in the inning while five others reached safely via walks, a hit batter and an error. But Hawkins also came up big on defense in center field. She completed a double play in the fourth inning with a perfect strike to the plate that saved a run and gave the team a spark.
"I feel like after we made some plays on defense our offense started getting more hits," she said. "We were getting really energetic after making those plays, so that carried over into the offense."
Hawkins believes the double play especially helped her at the plate. After opening the game with a pair of groundouts, she reached base safely her final three trips and scored three runs.
"It felt great (scoring twice in one inning) and also after making that play at home," the Blazers leadoff hitter said. "Throwing home definitely boosted my confidence to do good with the hitting. My first two at-bats weren't great, but after I made that play I felt my confidence was there."
Senior outfielder Vincenza Zaccaro also came up big, tying the score 5-5 with a 2-run triple in the fourth and then adding an RBI triple and a walk in the Blazers' huge sixth inning.
"It's definitely a confidence booster," Zaccaro said. "We could have easily just shut down in the third inning. We were down 5-1 and instead of shutting down we picked each other up. We just encouraged each other to get better because you don't want to start your season off on the wrong foot. You've got to persevere through tough times."
West Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the second after Gianna Hernandez walked with the bases loaded and then they went ahead 5-1 in the third. Aimee Cejna, who had three hits in the game, opened that 4-run inning with a double and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Cejna also singled and scored in the top of the seventh, but by then the Wildcats had been buried by the Blazers' 10-run outburst in the sixth.
"We ran short on our pitching today. We were not as sharp as we needed to be on the mound and then there were a couple plays we didn't make in the field that didn't help our cause," West Chicago coach Sean Gimpert said. "It's the first game of the year, but we've got a group of girls who are playing their third year, so we should be a lot sharper. We will be a lot sharper."