Softball: Bailitz Ks 14 as Hersey blanks Buffalo Grove
The future Dayton Flyer made sure her Hersey softball team had a smooth flight on Thursday in Arlington Heights.
Senior Sarah Bailitz tied her career high of 14 strikeouts and tossed a 2-hitter with a 6-0 shutout of visiting Buffalo Grove.
Bailitz (2-for-4) also sent the softball airborne with her bat, clubbing a 2-run homer over the center field fence in the fifth inning and sending a double to center in the third inning.
The Huskies (10-4) have now won four straight in the Mid-Suburban East to get above .500 for the first time after an 0-3 start with losses to the top three teams in the MSL West.
"We're just going to try and ride this positive stretch," Bailitz said. "We had a good team meeting on Monday. We regrouped after a tough week.
"It was a really good team effort. The defense was really good with no errors and I thought Morgan (Breden) caught great. Offensively, we hit when we had runners on base so that was really good."
The Huskies had Savannah Gazda (2-for-3, RBI that scored Neti Napoli) and South Dakota recruit Makayla Tsagalis (2-for-3) on base with two outs when Brianna Luciano stepped to the plate in the bottom of the third.
The Winona State recruit (2-for-4) responded with a 2-run single to right and those proved to be the only runs Bailitz would need to raise her record to 5-2.
"Sarah was awesome today," said Huskies coach Molly Freeman of her right-hander, who finished the game by striking out the side in the in the top of the seventh.
"The biggest thing we talk to our pitchers about is getting ahead and I really thought Sarah did that today. It makes a huge difference with strategy when you're working ahead in the count."
The only team ahead of Hersey in the East is Elk Grove (5-1), which Hersey plays twice next week.
"Our entrance into conference play (losses to Palatine, Barrington and Fremd) was definitely no rest for the weary but we fought back," said Freeman, who also got a 2-for-3 performance from Lauren Steininger and a double from Chloe Gordon. "We're playing well now which we're always excited about and we know our team chemistry is going to pull us through the season."
The Bison (5-8, 2-5) pulled off a defensive gem to end the third inning.
Hersey had runners on second and third with one out when second baseman Sam Hansen fired a strike to catcher Kim Stuerke who made the tag at the plate. Stuerke then tossed the ball to third baseman Megan Fontanetta who put the tag on another runner trying to advance a base.
"It was a good heads-up play," said BG coach Starr Dorsey. "The did a good job paying attention to the backside runners. We did well on that play defensively but we still have a lot of things to clean up. And we have to do better offensively, too."
The offensive highlights belonged to freshman leadoff batter Angelina Craig, who went 2-for -3 with a double to lead off the game.
"When she swings the bat, she really connects hard," Dorsey said. "And even her outs are usually hard ones. So she has been doing a really good job.
"We've just got to get her around the bases when she does get on."