St. Charles East sophomore Sujack delivers the hits needed to beat Oswego East

Hayden Sujack had the kind of freshman season last spring that would be hard to top.

She’s off to a good start to do just that.

Picking up right where she left off, the St. Charles East sophomore doubled in a run in her first at-bat of the season Wednesday, and she doubled and scored the second time.

Senior pitcher Grace Hautzinger did the rest, striking out eight in a 5-hit shutout as the visiting Saints beat Oswego East 2-0 in the season opener for both teams.

Sujack, 3-for-4 with a single in her fourth at-bat Wednesday, burst onto the high school softball scene last spring by hitting .412 with 14 homers. But she’s not pressing to live up to that brilliant debut.

“I’m trying to just let things happen because I saw what happened last year,” Sujack said. “Honestly, I have so much support from the team. I just want to play for them and do the best I can and do whatever it takes, however I can help them.”

Sujack already might have gotten a sophomore slump out of the way.

She admitted that she went through a bit of a slump during winter travel ball. She broke out of it with help from hitting coach Marc Mantucca and a fresh mindset.

“Eighty percent and rhythm through it, is what I say. It keeps me calm to not swing 110% every time,” Sujack said. “Just 80% effort level, keeping my rhythm going so my swing is smooth and not jerky.”

Smooth it was Wednesday, as she sprayed the ball to all fields.

In the first inning, after Addison Wolf drew a leadoff walk and stole second, Sujack hit a booming double to straight center. Two innings later, Sujack went the other way and smacked a double over the right fielder and scored on Katie Morgan’s double. In the seventh Sujack ripped a single to left.

“No doubt, she can hit. She wants to hit, and she enjoys the process of hitting,” Saints coach Jarod Gutesha said. “She has a great mindset for it, hit it where the pitches are. She can go anywhere with it.”

Hautzinger, meanwhile, cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two infield singles up to that point.

She ran into trouble in the sixth, Oswego East loading the bases on singles by Ronnie Craft, Finley Anderson and Mary Kate Quaid. But Hautzinger came back to strike out the next batter swinging through a rise, and she coaxed an inning-ending pop-up to Wolf at shortstop.

“I just trusted my team there; I know they have my back,” Hautzinger said. “That situation, it definitely puts the pressure on, but I’ve had more pressure in club and more important games. I knew how to handle it.”

Hautzinger handled Oswego East with a riseball that was working and a screwball that she said was also rising more than normal.

A curve down in the zone was a nice complement. She commanded all three while not walking a batter.

“She was in control of her pitches,” Gutesha said. “That is one thing she does well is she will hit her spots.”

That command, mix of pitches and movement made for a tough first day at the office for Oswego East. Craft and Anderson each had two of the Wolves’ five hits.

“She had a lot of movement,” Oswego East coach Sarah Davies said. “It was our first time back in it, shaking the rust off and she moved the ball really well, tripped us up on some of those rise balls and we struggled to adjust.”

Davies’ pitcher, Nicole Stone, kept the Wolves in it, scattering eight hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

Anderson had a big hand in minimizing the damage.

Oswego East’s center fielder made a diving catch in center and started a relay to throw out Sujack trying to score from second base in the first.

It was the first of many stellar plays in center from the speedy Anderson, which brought a smile to Davies’ face. The position was manned by standout Mia Corres the last three years, but center field looks to be in good hands with Anderson sliding over from left.

“I knew Finley was a strong, confident leader and a great player, but with Mia I always felt I could turn my head and she would make the catch,” Davies said. “To see that from Finley today was great to see. She is so fast. It feels nice to have that stable piece back there.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.