Buffalo Grove continues dominant run with convincing win over Prospect
Eight players in Buffalo Grove's starting lineup were key members of the Bison's 2021 team that won the school's first softball championship in 24 years.
Using that season-ending momentum, the Bison have powered their way to first place in the Mid-Suburban East this spring with an 8-2 triumph over visiting Prospect Wednesday.
The junior battery of pitcher Kate Ryan and catcher JJ Jakosalem was instrumental in the decision that moved Buffalo Grove (16-3, 10-2) one game ahead of Hersey (17-4, 9-3).
Ryan allowed just one hit and struck out five in six innings while Jakosalem enjoyed the first 4-for-4 day of her career.
"This is exciting," said Jakosalem, who also caught as a sophomore during BG's 8-7 conference campaign last season under first-year coach Caitlin Carpenter, a former standout catcher at Palatine. "Playing as well as we did last season and finishing with the regional title, we were excited to come back with so many players to show everyone how we could play in the conference."
Jakosalem's one-out double in the first inning was followed by infield singles by Oklahoma State commit Angelina Craig (2-for-4) and Hannah Hull (2-for-3). Jenna Kosnoff's single to left made it 3-0.
The Bison's 5-run fifth included Craig's fifth homer of the season, a grand slam to right-center after Alyssa Fontanetta (2-for-3), Kayla O'Malley and Jakosalem all singled in front of her. Kim Stuercke led off the inning with a double to right.
"I'm so lucky to have so many returners who really felt the energy from winning that regional last season," Carpenter said. "They're hungry for it again and it shows every day we are out there."
Ryan showed she can hit, too, clubbing a single to center in the third and lining out sharply to Prospect left fielder Alexandra Garnmeister in the fifth.
The hard-throwing left-hander, who faced only 21 batters before being relieved by Kosnoff in the seventh, has only one loss to Fremd.
"Kate is so focused all the time," Carpenter said. " You can just see it in her, and we are in a super-focused defensive mindset when she is on the mound. They just kind of feed off her energy and it's great. We've got a lot of games this week and we can really count on both Kate and Jenna to really shut some teams down. It's nice."
Prospect pitcher Emily Scolaro gave up only 3 runs through the first five innings. She threw a perfect fifth, getting the final batter on a terrific catch by third baseman Georgianna Crudele who raced toward the Bison dugout and snared the ball at the last second in front of the fence.
Garnmeister's infield single in the fourth was Prospect's only hit off Ryan.
Garnmeister also doubled in the seventh when Ashley Simon and Molly Gilhooly added singles to help Prospect (11-7-1, 6-6) score its 2 runs.
"AG (Garnmeister is having a great week at the plate," Prospect coach Krystina Leazer said. "Buffalo Grove is a very good hitting team. They're going to get their hits so we have to do our part on offense which we did not. Their pitcher kept us off balance and off the bases. That was the difference."