Softball: Grayslake Central bashes 4 homers in win over Vernon Hills

The foul ball off the top of Ann Wolff’s left foot stung in the bottom of the first inning, forcing the Grayslake Central junior to hop, hop, hop in agony around the batter’s box Friday afternoon.

She then attempted to shake the pain out of her wheel in the nonconference softball game against visiting Vernon Hills.

Wolff, the Rams’ starting pitcher, returned to the batter’s box and promptly hurt something else — the next pitch she saw.

Her 2-run homer to right-center was Grayslake Central’s second of the frame (senior catcher Eliza Piggott had blasted the first, a shot over the right-field fence) in a 20-8, 5-inning victory.

The hosts crushed 4 round-trippers in all to back Wolff’s third win in five decisions.

Rams sophomore first baseman Katie Davies went deep in the second inning and junior shortstop Emma Andrews struck for a towering, 3-run homer to left-center in the bottom of the third to expand the advantage to 18-6.

“Our bats were on fire,” Piggott said. “You could not put them out.”

The victory came three days after a 5-3 defeat of top-ranked Antioch — the reigning Class 3A state runner-up — on the same diamond.

“The concern was having a letdown after such a big win,” Rams coach Jim Plaza said after his club improved to 6-4 and Vernon Hills fell to 4-6-1. “But that certainly didn’t happen. Top to bottom, we had good at-bats, being patient and selectively aggressive.

“Two outs or two strikes, it didn’t matter,” he added. “Our hitters came through. We’ve been focusing on the mental aspects of hitting.”

Davies’ 2-run single in GLC’s 9-run third inning preceded 1-run singles by Wolff (4-for-4, HR, 2 2Bs), senior third baseman Trinity Breault (2 RBIs), junior right fielder Kate Wondrasek (3 RBIs) and senior second baseman Ally Struck.

Andrews’ 3-run big fly capped the scoring in the highly productive inning.

Vernon Hills junior outfielder Isabelle Loiben wielded the most potent bat for the Cougars, connecting for a grand slam in the top of the second to knot it at 6-all and tripling to plate the visitors’ seventh run in the fourth.

As Loiben neared the batter’s box with the bases packed for her second at-bat, a spectator shouted, “Find some green.”

Translation: Sock a pitch that lands in the outfield grass and drive in a run or two.

Loiben found green all right — a patch of grass beyond the fence in right-center.

“Good hitter, powerful hitter,” VH coach Jan Pauly said. “Isabelle works hard at softball. She’s been dedicated for years, taking hitting lessons and constantly working in the cage.

“Her hard work,” she added, “continues to pay off.”

Cougars starting pitcher Morgan Hart knocked in Vernon Hills’ first and last runs with singles. Teammate Samone Stevens, a senior third baseman, drove in a run via a single to shallow left field in the second.

Grayslake Central sophomore Kaitlynne Faust (2 Ks) pitched a scoreless fifth in relief of Wolff.

“We showed some resiliency today, “Plaza said. “It would have been easy for us to cave in after leading 6-1 and then finding ourselves in a 6-6 game. But we didn't.

“We kept swinging well.”

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