Buffalo Grove's Kelly enjoys challenge of being a 3-sport coach

Martha Kelly coached Buffalo Grove's cross country team last fall.

This spring, Kelly got off to a running start as BG's first-year softball coach.

Kelly's defending Mid-Suburban League East champions began the season with a no-hitter from East Player of the Year Kate Ryan.

The senior left-hander, who faced 23 batters, struck out seven and did not walk a batter in a 6-0 shutout at Dundee-Crown.

Paige Beller contributed 3 RBI while Kayla O'Malley scored 2 runs and Juliann Jakosalem had a pair of hits for the Bison.

"I'm very fortunate to have a great bunch of athletes to work with and Kate Ryan is a fabulous pitcher," Kelly said. "I can't take much credit. I have a very talented group."

For Kelly, this is her third group of athletes in a different sport this school year.

The former Driscoll High School standout athlete (cross country, tennis, all-conference in basketball and second baseman/catcher in softball) was also the head coach for BG's girls basketball team this winter.

Being a head coach for three sports in a school year is quite a rarity in this day and age for the Mid-Suburban League.

Brad Rathe (girls golf, boys basketball and boys tennis) is doing the same at Prospect.

This isn't the first time Kelly is a head coach for three different sports in one school year. Two years ago, she headed up the BG cross country, basketball and girls track and field programs.

"I enjoy it," Kelly says of her unique schedule which also includes being a math teacher. "I'm a competitive person and just enjoy being around sports. I love coaching the girls. I love seeing them have success and trying to help them do that."

The Purdue University graduate has been doing it for more than 20 years, beginning with her first job teaching math in 2001 at Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst where she also served as head tennis coach.

After two years in Elmhurst, Kelly went to Carmel in Mundelein for four years where she even served one season as the defensive backs coach for the football team. She then moved on to Libertyville, Prospect and BG, where she has been since 2015.

In all, she has been an assistant or head coach for six different sports. Six times during career, she has coached at some level three sports a school year.

Solid start:

Prospect kicked off the season and broke in its new infield with a 13-2 win over Glenbrook South.

Winning pitcher Riley Depa went 2-for-3 at the plate and struck out 10.

Carley Jagiello, Sara Hasan and Ashley Simon each hit home runs for the Knight while Erin Pinter went 3-for-3 with 2 doubles.

On the road:

Prospect will spend spring break at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

"It's a great opportunity for our team to get some games in the warm weather before conference play begins," said Knights coach Krystina Mackowiak, a former Carthage College and Elk Grove standout pitcher. "The coaches are so excited for this season and are looking forward to getting some games in before the conference starts."

Back on campus:

After 10 years of calling the Stadium in Rosemont its home field, Leyden is back "on campus" at the East Annex, a multimillion dollar softball venue located across the street from the East Leyden Campus in Franklin Park.

"Leyden softball is so appreciative of The Village of Rosemont for allowing us to use the Stadium and Dome exclusively for the past decade," said veteran Eagles coach Kurt Schuett. "It was a dream come true for our Leyden student-athletes and their families."

In the blood:

Leyden has two strong freshmen with Kathryn MacLeod and Elise Bertsche.

MacLeod's mother was a standout Leyden athlete in the early 1990s while Bertsche's sister Emma was a three-year starting pitcher for Leyden who beat state-ranked Whitney Young in 2017 for a regional championship. Kathryn MacLeod will play infield and outfield roles this spring while Elise Bertsche will play infield and pitch.

Nearing golden anniversary:

This year marks the 49th anniversary of the Mid-Suburban League championship game. It's scheduled for May 18 on the field of the MSL East representative.

This would have been the 50th edition if not for the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 which wiped out the high school softball season.

Conant won the first MSL title game in 1974 with a 6-5 win over Wheeling. The Cougars and Elk Grove have each won five titles, tied for second behind Barrington's record 16 titles.

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