Softball: Rogalevich, Grant grab a wild victory
Gabby Rogalevich sprinted toward Grant's outfield fence and caught a speeding softball just before it traveled over the fence.
Then she did it again. And again.
"I caught most of them," said Rogalevich, Grant's senior center fielder.
That was Monday at practice, when the Bulldogs brought out their Hack Attack machine, which fired softballs all over the outfield.
"We were shooting line drives to the top of the fence," Grant coach Chris Van Alstine said.
Wednesday, Stevenson slugger Maggie O'Brien replaced the Hack Attack machine when she and her Patriots teammates visited Fox Lake for a nonconference game. O'Brien, a UW-Stout commit, took a whack. Rogalevich sprinted to the outfield fence and got there. She then had the ball pop out of her glove and land over the fence for a home run.
But Rogalevich givith, then hitith.
She slugged a homer of her own in her next at-bat, and that was one of a bunch of offensive highlights for Grant in its 18-14 win.
"I just wanted to get up there and smack the ball," Rogalevich said after going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, and finishing a triple shy of the cycle. "I was really frustrated (after the O'Brien homer). All my frustration went right to the ball."
Both teams experienced their share of frustration. After one inning, Grant (11-9-1) enjoyed a 7-0 lead that could have been more considering the home team left the bases loaded. The Bulldogs drew 7 walks in the first and got hits from Rogalevich (RBI single) and Sarah Gallivan (2-run double).
Van Alstine wasn't relaxing.
"I've looked at the scores. I've talked to the coaches. Stevenson can hit," he said. "I said that yesterday. I said that today when we were up seven (after one inning). I said if we don't hit and leave it at seven, we're in trouble."
He was right. Stevenson (5-10) never pulled even, but after Anna Fossier's 2-run single with two out in the seventh, the Patriots had the tying run on deck. Grant reliever Juliana Reynolds got a popout to sure-handed shortstop Calista Warmowski with two runners on base, and the Bulldogs could breathe a sigh of relief.
"They were in it," Stevenson coach Heather Ruchim said of her players. "It's been an ongoing theme this year for us. We play to the very last out and, win or lose, you really can't ask for anything more."
O'Brien homered in the third with freshman Lexi Gitler aboard to pull the visitors within 11-6. When she smoked Frances Williams' pitch to deep center, Rogalevich flashed back to Monday's practice.
"I saw the ball and was tracking it, running back, and then I looked up to grab it," said Rogalevich, a three-year varsity outfielder. "But right when I went to grab it, my head came down. I thought I had it in my glove.
"Just like that drill in practice," she added. "I really wanted that one."
"When (O'Brien) hit it, Coach Dart got all excited," Van Alstine said of assistant coach Jessica Dart. "She said, 'She might make this play.' "
Rogalevich got her redemption in the bottom of the third, homering to left-center with Liz Schram aboard for her third of the season. Schram hit a solo homer in the fifth. Besides Rogalevich, Gallivan (4-for-4, 4 RBI), Schram (2-for-3) and Kaylin Berwanger (2-for-4) all had multiple hits for Grant.
Megan Mitchell had a 2-run single, and Warmowski contributed a 3-run double. Warmowski, a Marian University commit, also made 4 putouts and had 8 assists.
"Our pitchers are pitching fantastic," Van Alstine said. "We spent so much time working on defense over the weekend, and our defense looks great. Calista got tested today. She makes it look easy (at shortstop) because she's such a great athlete."
Stevenson outhit Grant 15-14, as freshman Elle Ruchim (Heather's half-sister), sophomore Hailey Barnes and starting pitcher Riley Housinger (2 doubles) each contributed 3 hits. Fossier and O'Brien, who also had a double, had 2 hits apiece.
"When we get the bats going, they're contagious," Heather Ruchim said. "We were able to bounce back a little bit, and I like to see that. I like to see that we're resilient. We're never out of it."