Softball: Downers Grove South powers past DGN
Alexandra Meyers and Brynn Dvoracek lingered in the Downers Grove South dugout Tuesday, posing for pictures for Instagram with the team's home run chain.
Yes, that's right.
The Mustangs, who hit 45 homers two years ago, have found a new way to celebrate the long ball. An idea hatched by Daly Garland, whoever hits a home run is in charge of holding on to a huge gold chain in the Downers Grove South dugout. When the next person hits a homer, it gets passed on.
"It really gets us hyped for the game," said Dvoracek, Downers Grove South's senior first baseman. "You want to wear the chain, you want everyone to see that you've been working hard."
Meyers and Dvoracek were both solid gold Tuesday.
Dvoracek slugged a solo homer run to jump-start the Mustangs' offense, and Meyers later added a two-run shot in Downers Grove South's 6-2 win over visiting Downers Grove North.
Both were the first of the year for Dvoracek and Meyers, starters in a new-look Mustangs' team from the one that reached a sectional final two years ago on the strength of a hard-hitting lineup.
Dvoracek's homer came with one out in the fourth, to straight center, and it got Downers Grove South (4-0) on the board trailing 2-1.
"That was our spark, because we really didn't hit much before that," Mustangs coach Jim Cushing said. "She came up and she hit it right into the wind, long gone. That gave us a totally different outlook."
Dvoracek gave an assist to her home dugout for boosting her big shot.
"The team really charged me right back," Dvoracek said. "They gave me so much love and so much hype and they're so friendly. I really feel the support of them. I don't think I would have done it without them cheering me on. I owe it all to them."
The Mustangs used little ball to take the lead the next inning. Meyers hit a one-out double that was blown by the wind, and Renee Nicholson walked. Meyers scored when an errant throw trying to nab Nicholson stealing second went into center field, and Nicholson eventually scored the go-ahead run on a two-out wild pitch.
Pinch hitter Isabella Lapacek singled in a run to make it 4-2 in the sixth, and lefty-hitting leadoff Meyers followed with an opposite-field drive that kept carrying over the fence in left for a two-run homer.
"I was just thinking I have to hit the ball because I struck out my first two times up," Meyers said. "I was just thinking solid contact, and the ball went from there."
"That left-handed swing into the crosswind, we kept talking about that," Cushing said. "That jet stream going to left-center helps the ball."
It's no coincidence that Meyers went the way. She used to be a lefty slapper, but has added power as she's got older.
"That's my natural spot, is the left side," Meyers said. "I don't really slap that much anymore. I mainly go for power."
For half the game, Downers Grove North freshman pitcher Ava Gusel held the Mustangs at bay. She stranded two runners in the second inning and one more in the third, and struck out five in throwing to fellow freshman Maya Rodriguez behind the plate.
"Downers Grove South is a good hitting team, one through nine they're always hitting, but give credit to our freshman pitcher -- she kept them off balance," Trojans coach Eric Landschoot said. "We had the lead for most of the game."
The Trojans (1-4) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth on RBI singles by Kendall Cole and Rodriguez. Leadoff hitter Maggie Ward had three hits for Downers Grove North, which has just two girls remaining from its 2019 team.
"This is exactly the game we wanted," Landschoot said. "You never want to end in the column but there are a lot of good signs to build on, especially early in the season."
Winning pitcher Jordyn Spencer struck out seven for the Mustangs.
The teams, in an unusual quirk, will meet again May 13 as the West Suburban Conference is limiting teams to league games.
"It's so different this year because you don't know anybody on the other team," Cushing said. "It makes for a little weirder game but it's nice to be back on the field."