Softball: Marengo tops Wauconda, but Williams collects another 'W'
While Wauconda was winning 81 softball games the last three seasons, Sydney Williams was hoping for a chance to someday contribute.
For three seasons, she didn't make the varsity roster.
You wouldn't have guessed it based on her play this week.
The senior started behind the plate in Wauconda's season opener Thursday at Richmond-Burton and caught again Friday when the Bulldogs played Marengo in their home opener.
Marengo scored 3 runs in the fifth inning and hung on for a 5-3 win in a nonconference game between two teams that have been Class 3A state powers in recent years.
Williams played JV ball the last two years, stuck behind catcher Taylor McCarthy.
"She had a full season catching for the JV (last year), and I think she needed it," Wauconda coach Tim Rennels said of Williams. "She won (the starting catching job Thursday). She won it today."
Williams had three quality at-bats against Marengo (4-0). The senior drove in Wauconda's first run with a second-inning groundout, was robbed by center fielder Susie Nawrot, who hit the grass after making a lunging catch in right-center in the fourth and boomed an RBI double to right-center with two out in the sixth to pull the Bulldogs within two runs.
"Stung 'em," Rennels said of Williams' second and third at-bats.
The varsity rookie also made a nice catch on a foul popup, deftly avoiding a collision with Marengo's on-deck hitter.
"I think I've improved a lot," Williams said. "I worked over the summer hard. I went to different catching coaches. I was pushing myself because I wanted to be on varsity for my senior year."
Williams is one of six Wauconda seniors along with Hayley Redmann, Sarah Ricci, Taylor Lambert, Alex Steffens and Mallory Carver. Rennels would like to see the group adjust to new roles this season after the graduation of stars McCarthy, Kayla Wedl (UIC) and Brooke Sefcik (Carthage College).
"Playing behind a Kayla and a Taylor and a Brooke, my seniors got to realize, 'We're on our own now,' " Rennels said.
Wauconda is off to an 0-2 start, but the Bulldogs don't expect this to be a rebuilding season.
"I think we meshed well as a team at the beginning," Williams said. "We did the 'Big Sis, Little Sis' (upperclassmen paired with underclassmen) and it helped with everything."
Steffens was 2-for-3 with an RBI double against Marengo, which got a complete-game, 7-strikeout effort from No. 2 pitcher Riley Connell. Kayla Serio, who pitched all 7 innings for Wauconda, hit three balls hard and finished 1-for-3 with a walk. Ricci and freshman Angelica Frances Cho also had hits for the Bulldogs. Rennels' starting lineup included sophomores Serio and Sydney Rodgers and freshmen Cho, Riley Aldrich and Maddie Ryan.
Serio allowed 2 earned runs, struck out two and walked one.
"They battle," Marengo coach Dwain Nance said. "They're athletes, they go out there and compete, and I think their pitcher does a really nice job. She doesn't overpower you, but gets out. And their first baseman (Steffens) is really good."
Marengo got 2 hits apiece from Leah Secor (double), Mariah Dionne, Megan Anthony (2-run single) and Lauren Aubry (double, 2 RBI).
"I'm happy to walk away with a 'W' at Wauconda," Nance said. "They're a pretty good team."