Softball: Rodriguez, Downers Grove North back in groove against Glenbard West
The script for Savannah Rodriguez's senior season did not start off the way she would have written it, but that's not to say she and her Downers Grove North softball teammates cannot have a happy ending.
The Trojans pitcher and slugger missed much of this season while recovering from a bulging disk in her back. But Rodriguez was cleared to return last week and Friday she smashed her second home run since her return, a 3-run shot to center field in a 4-run first inning as Downers Grove North breezed to an 11-0, 5-inning defeat of visiting Glenbard West.
The Trojans scored 9 runs in the first two innings as Rodriguez had a pair of hits and 4 RBI in the first two innings as the hosts improved to 17-3 overall and 5-1 in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division. Sophomore Estelle Czech earned the shutout win with 8 strikeouts while limiting the Hilltoppers to 2 hits.
"I've only played a couple games and my team has done such a great job of just helping me out and hyping me up and getting me prepared to play," said Rodriguez, who played first base but hopes to regain a prominent role on the mound soon. "I've been so excited."
Czech was excited to see her team give her a big lead and also to see Rodriguez work herself back into a groove at the plate. The Trojans were aided by three fielding errors in the bottom of the first inning, but the miscues came on hard-hit balls.
"If we hit the ball hard then they have to make a play. And if they don't that's good for us," she said. "As long as you hit the ball hard in play, then you're giving yourself a good chance. And everyone loves that her (Rodriguez's) bat is back. Everyone."
Catcher Madilyn Greenaberg hit a 2-run homer in the third inning to close the shortened-game's scoring.
Downers Grove North coach Eric Landschoot welcomed the team's strong start and also continues to be impressed by his young pitcher.
"Absolutely. You know that's something we've been talking about," he said of starting strong. "We've had a couple slow starts. So we really wanted to focus on jumping ahead today and we did a nice job of that.
"As for Estelle, she did really well. She threw strikes. She mixed it up. She got her off-speed pitches over. She's been consistent all season. She was consistent all last season. It's gonna be great to have her here a couple more years since she's only a sophomore."
For Rodriguez, there's still time left to make her senior campaign a special one.
'We're strong one through nine," the slugger said of the Trojans' lineup. "It's also awesome that people who aren't playing are so strong too. I'm really excited for postseason this year because I think we have a chance to go very far. I just don't want it to end. It's so much fun. DGN softball is awesome."
Glenbard West coach Mary McGrane, whose team dropped to 8-11, 2-6 in the Silver, is ready to put this game behind her and prepare for Saturday's game at Glenbard East.
"That's kind of what set the tone in that first inning, it was a couple of our physical errors," she said. "Then on their home runs, they weren't great pitches. My pitchers left them belt high so they should have hit them out of the park, in all honesty. But yeah, if you make a mistake to them they're going to take advantage of it."
Isabell Hermanson had a leadoff single in the second inning, but she was stranded at second base and Glenbard West managed just one other hit.