Softball: Fremd opens postseason with solid win over Glenbard North
A little more than a week ago, Gianna Arnieri enjoyed the inning of her life when she belted a grand slam and a 3-run triple for 7 RBI in a win over Schaumburg.
Batting eighth in the Fremd lineup on Wednesday, Arnieri reached base in all three of her at-bats -- a walk, hit by pitch and an all-out-hustle infield single.
So which performance meant more to the senior center fielder who coach Josh Teschner calls a terrific unselfish team player?
You probably guessed it.
"This (Wednesday's three at-bats) was more important," said the modest senior. "This is the playoffs."
And the fourth-seeded Vikings started the postseason in solid fashion with a 10-2 win over No. 12 Glenbard North in Fremd's Class 4A regional semifinal.
Fremd (20-8) will face No. 5 South Elgin (26-6) for the championship at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
"At the end of the day, we just have to do what we need to do," Arnieri said. "We've been playing really good softball and I just wanted to reach base for my team.
"When I was on base, Cali (DiVito) hit that grand slam. It really speaks to everyone on this team getting on base and doing their job when it counts."
"Gianna has been an unselfish kid for this program her whole career," said Teschner, who has guided the Vikings to three straight 20-win seasons. "She will do what is best for the team. She knows if it's her job to go up and see pitches and help out the next hitter, or to see pitches and get on base any way she can, she will.
"She is 100 percent that kind of kid. She is about Fremd softball and how to advance the team."
DiVito's first career grand slam capped a 9-run third inning after the Panthers had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning.
Mary Price led off with a walk and came home on a fielder's choice ground ball by senior Kaitlyn Schietler for the 1-0 advantage.
Fremd's Hailey Hazlett, winning pitcher Grace Hiller (9-3) and Gina Dudley combined for a 5-hitter.
"Hailey was pitching well (only 1 bunt hit in 2⅔ innings) and then she started getting a little shaky (not feeling well)," Teschner said. "We just felt right thing in that situation was to protect her, protect her health.
"We've got a deep pitching staff. You saw the freshman (Dudley) close out a regional semifinal game which is a tough spot to come in."
Schietler was the Panthers' only multiple hitter. The DuKane Conference Player of the Year, who will play at Lake Land College in Mattoon, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and her 11th homer of the season in the seventh inning.
Isabella Eggert, Rushika Amin and Bella Leto had the other hits for Glenbard North (8-17).
"We've really got to tip our caps to their pitching," said Glenbard North coach Josh Sanew. " They held us to two runs and we've really been putting up more runs than that all season. But it happens and they have a nice team."
The Vikings' 9-run inning included junior Kelsey Brauer's double to left center that tied the game at 1-1 and freshman Elaina Kraus' game-winning RBI single to left.
Freshman Kalyn McCarty (2-fo-r4), Brauer (2-for-4), junior McKenna Schneider (2-for-4) and junior Sophia Crescio (2-for-3) were multiple hitters for the Vikings, who reached 20 wins for the 23rd time in 25 seasons.
And then there was Arnieri, the only player in the game to reach base three times.
She will study at the University of Notre Dame beginning this fall.
"She is a brilliant kid," Teschner said. "It's that kind of intelligence that transfers over to the softball field where she has the awareness of what's bigger than herself."
Sanew made a classy move when he let three pinch hitters take cuts in the final inning.
"Those kids worked hard all year," Sanew said. "They deserved that opportunity."
"That's a coach being respectful of the kids on his team and getting them those at-bats," Teschner said.
The Vikings put Wednesday's game away with their at-bats in the third inning -- 12 to be exact. McCarthy had both of her hits in the big rally and scored twice.
"That's sort of been the story of our season," Sanew said. "We play solid for six innings and then we have one inning where we give up a lot of runs. That really sort of dug us too deep a hole."