Softball: Motivated Downers Grove North comes through against Montini
It's not like Downers Grove North pitcher Nicole Havel liked seeing her softball coach ejected in the fourth inning Monday at Montini, but the Trojans pitcher did seem to pick up her game a notch once the commotion settled down.
Eric Landschoot was tossed after arguing a few calls that went against his team. That included of pair of 3-2 pitches that turned into back-to-back walks by Havel to open the Broncos' half of the fourth with Downers Grove North (21-6) on top by 4 runs at the time.
The two runners did come around to score to close the gap to 2. But Havel was sharp the rest of the way and her teammates provided plenty of support in what turned out to be an 11-4 nonconference win for the visitors.
"I think I started out a little tough, but I think after the whole incident with the coach, it sort of lit a fire," the hard-throwing junior pitcher said. "I got my stuff together. And I felt good at the end."
The Trojans offense also felt good at the end, especially Havel's batterymate Abby Ryniec, who belted a pair of 2-run home runs. Ryniec, who entered the game with one long ball this spring, pulled a first-inning homer to right center for a quick 3-0 lead. After Montini (14-9) had tightened the score to 6-4, the catcher belted another 2-run shot, this time to center, in a 5-run sixth inning that put the game away.
"She was throwing me outside consistently, but I just knew she was going to throw me in (then)," Ryniec said of Broncos starter Kora Navarro. "I had a feeling she was going to throw me in so both of my hits were inside pitches and I was happy with how I hit today."
So was Havel, who also got a boost in the big sixth inning when third baseman Stacy Drohan cracked her first varsity home run.
"We definitely came through today with our hitting. I was really proud of us as we didn't leave as many runners on base," said Havel, who has lost just twice this spring. "We did our job and got them in, so that made me very happy. It's nice to have those comfort runs."
Trojans assistant coach Amy O'Dell, who took over skipper duties the second half of the game, likes the way the Trojans are playing with the playoffs just around the corner.
"It was nice to see us get some two-out hits and put some insurance runs up," O'Dell said. "She's been doing really good. It's awesome to see Nicole come into games and settle in. She does a really good job of finding her focus and making sure she gets on top of as many batters as possible."
The Trojans host a potent Lincoln-Way Central team Tuesday for senior night and then play Hinsdale Central later this week with the hopes of locking up a conference crown.
For the Broncos, leadoff hitter Emily Alexander had three hits, including a 2-run double, and Elise Spaccapaniccia had two hits, including an RBI single that scored Alexander in a 2-run first.
"They're a very strong team and very competitive team," Broncos coach Erin Bradarich said. "They're the caliber of team that we'll have to beat moving forward. We have York Friday, the Bandits Showdown Saturday and then playoffs. We jumped right back in it today … the word scrappy is the word we've been using this year. It's a seven-inning game and you've got to use all of it."