Softball: Maine South blanks Glenbrook North in conference opener
The Softball program at Maine South High School is hitting the diamond this spring with a heavy heart.
JV coach Cheryl Roma, a 1989 South grad and former softball alum, passed away in January at the age of 50 after a lengthy illness.
Nicknamed "Griz," Roma was a four-year varsity member (1986-89) for the Hawks in what arguably was the greatest era in program history. The Hawks would go 115-22 during that span winning 4 regional and 3 sectional crowns plus back-to-back state final trips in 1988 where it finished second and an Elite Eight appearance the following year.
With an outdoor memorial service scheduled for later this spring, this season's Hawks softball squad pays homage to their fallen coach with a 'raised wing' salute upward to the sky just before the game.
"We want to work hard for her," Maine South senior pitcher Kaylin Fahy said. "She came here and helped (us) out so much. Personally, when I was a freshman on the JV (team) with her as my coach it was awesome. She was such an inspiration who keeps pushing us forward."
Another avenue that they will be seeking is a successful season to follow up last year's 19-win campaign that included a regional title.
However, that goal has run into a roadblock of sorts.
That being the postponement or cancellation of 7 of their first 8 games due to Mother Nature.
On Tuesday it sought to get its season on track as it hosted Glenbrook North in the CSL South opener for both teams.
Thanks to a complete-game shutout tossed by Fahy, the Hawks posted a 2-0 victory over the visiting Spartans in Park Ridge.
"We'll take it. I'm not going to say no to it," South coach Emmy Paiser said. "We've (only) had two games and one practice on our field. I've been nervous in the past when you're going three weeks without a game and we had spring break in there. Coming out of (it) we had (that) practice and we weren't up to par. We had a quick conversation in left field and they came back and they were ready to go."
That readiness proved to be beneficial in procuring the two runs the Hawks (2-0, 1-0) needed. In the bottom of the second, senior center fielder Kaylie Kowalski advanced from first to third on a grounder that became their first run when she took off toward home on a subsequent throwing error. Fahy helped her own cause four innings later when after connecting on a double, she scored from third after another Spartans fielding error.
In the meantime, Fahy compiled 17 strikeouts while only walking two and surrendering an infield single in the second with fellow senior Catey Lukasz behind the plate in her catching debut. A performance which impressed Paiser.
"It was a great performance by Catey back there. She didn't catch a single inning last year," Paiser said. "She's solid down there. She's calling the game. It was beautiful to see the two of them work so good as Kaylin was on the mound."
For GBN (2-5, 0-1), senior Maddie Molay's complete-game effort which included 7 strikeouts and yielding just four hits kept her team in the contest.
"Right now, we're struggling hitting and I talked to them about their mental approach at the plate and being more confident," Spartans coach Bridget Matsunaga said.
"We have a mix of younger girls and older girls so we're still trying to jell a little bit."