Softball: Benet runs into hot-hitting Yorkville

When Kayla Kersting goes to the plate, Yorkville coach Jory Regnier tells her to “make the ball feel sad.”

It’s a request Kersting is more than capable of fulfilling.

Kersting, Yorkville’s sophomore catcher, seems to hit every ball on a line. Exit velocity off the bat is an en vogue stat in the modern game, and Kersting could be the queen of exit velocity the way she punishes the ball.

“When she hits it, I kind of feel sorry for the ball,” Regnier said. “I wonder if the shape of the ball is still good.”

Kersting’s bat speed showed no rust on Friday from a nearly two-week layoff. She hit a three-run home run, Kersting and Regan Bishop each had two run-scoring hits and Yorkville went on to a 9-3 win over visiting Benet.

Kersting’s homer, with none out in the second inning and the Foxes (6-3) leading 1-0, was a no-doubter. As she passed first base, she playfully let out “see ya.”

But her approach was hardly to swing for the fences, and it was no soaring fly ball. The ball went on a line well over the fence in center field, much like the six homers she hit as a freshman for the Class 4A state runners-up.

“I shoot for that,” Kersting said. “If you hit it on a line it’s harder to catch than a line drive. It’s not my mindset when I go to the plate to hit home runs. My mindset is just to drive the ball.”

One inning later, Kersting hit a missile in the hole between shortstop and third base to score Bishop and make it 6-1.

Even Kersting’s outs were hit hard Friday, on the ground and right at people. It’s no secret to Regnier why Kersting can generate such consistently hard contact.

“She has extremely quick hands and she’s also really really strong. That’s a great combination, that’s why she hits it hard,” Regnier said. “That shows through in every swing she takes. It’s not just game time. She does not take reps off. She is 110% all the time, always trying to get better. Can’t ask for more.”

Indeed, Kersting lived in the weight room coming off a freshman season in which she hit .456, and she was joined by teammates like Bishop.

“We were there every day, all day, all offseason, even winter break,” Kersting said. “Christmas, Thanksgiving. Coach preaches to lift hard in the weight room and lift every day.”

Bishop was another of three Foxes in Friday’s lineup that played for the state team last year. She had several big hits as a pinch hitter during the playoff run, and delivered Friday.

In the second inning, after fouling off three pitches down in the count 1-2, Bishop took the eighth pitch of the at bat the opposite way for a single to score courtesy runner Emmy Judd with the game’s first run. Bishop had another opposite-field RBI single during Yorkville’s five-run fourth inning.

“I was swinging at anything that I knew I could hit, just staying locked in. I knew we had a runner on and I had to get her in,” Bishop said. “I changed my stance at the beginning of the year, it was a really rocky at the beginning but I’m paying attention to where I need to hit the ball and hitting a lot better.”

Benet (1-3) was hurt by two errors in Yorkville’s five-run fourth, but the Redwings’ bats didn’t go quietly. Bridget Chapman’s single scored Angela Horejs in the fourth and Horejs singled in Nina Pesare in the sixth.

Pesare, a UIC recruit, had singles in her last three at bats. Benet, itself coming off a third-place finish in Class 3A, had runners on in all but one inning.

“Once our defense started picking up at the end that gave us more energy. I think everybody was tired and we had to rejuvenate,” Pesare said.

Benet’s last game had been March 21, but Pesare kept busy going to the gym and hitting twice a week with her slapping coach, former Naperville North star Sammy Marshall.

“It was good to get the rust off today,” Pesare said. “I know we’re going to pick ourselves back up.”

Benet's Bridget Chapman (17) slides into second base during softball game between Benet at Yorkville. April 5th, 2024.
Benet's Angela Horejs (44) runs to third base during softball game between Benet at Yorkville. April 5th, 2024.
Benet's Angela Horejs (44) slides into second base during softball game between Benet at Yorkville. April 5th, 2024.
Benet's Marikate Ritterbusch (48) makes a catch at first for an out during softball game between Benet at Yorkville. April 5th, 2024.
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