Softball: Grayslake North struggles to catch up with Mosolino's speed
Prairie Ridge felt it had more to give after a season-opening loss to Carmel on Tuesday, so the Wolves were determined for a better showing Thursday against Grayslake North.
Prairie Ridge struck early for four runs in the top of the first inning, and freshman pitcher Reese Mosolino held the Knights to three hits and fired 12 strikeouts as the Wolves rolled to a 14-1 nonconference win for their first victory of the season.
"Our energy was just so strong this game," junior center fielder Emily Harlow said. "I felt like there was a very strong team connection. We had a better mental approach, we were more aggressive, and we were ready to go."
Harlow finished 4 for 5 with three doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Wolves on offense, and sophomore shortstop Adysen Kiddy (2 for 5, three RBIs, three runs) hit her second home run -- a two-run shot in the fourth -- in as many games.
Prairie Ridge (1-1), featuring a lineup of three juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen, piled up 13 hits in the runaway victory. The Wolves sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring four runs, and ended the game with a six-run seventh.
Wolves first-year coach Scott Busam was pleased with his team's approach after striking out eight times and walking once in Tuesday's loss to Carmel. Against Grayslake North, the Wolves struck out four times and drew five walks.
"For us, it's all about finding a fine balance between being patient and having an aggressive attitude," Busam said. "Early on as a coaching staff, we've put expectations on them. There's no such thing as freshmen or sophomores. You're playing varsity softball for Prairie Ridge.
"The expectation is you rise to that level, and so far they have."
Mosolino, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, looked poised in her second high school start. She walked five batters in her high school debut against Carmel but only one on Thursday. She pitched all seven innings, striking out the side in the fifth and throwing 76 of 102 pitches for strikes.
"I worked really hard over the winter," Mosolino said. "We've all worked really good together in the gym, and it was good just to see everybody produce. We did really well today. The first game I was nervous. I just relaxed today, and I did perfectly fine."
"My fastball was really working, and I killed them at the end with my changeup."
Grayslake North coach Amanda Rodriguez said a lot of her players have not faced a pitcher who throws as fast as Mosolino, who has been clocked at 60-plus mph.
"For a lot of them, that might have been the fastest pitcher they've seen," Rodriguez said. "I just think that we were trying to catch up to her, and we struggled with that."
Busam said Mosolino doesn't look like a first-year pitcher in high school.
"The best part about Reese is, for a 14-year old freshman, she is extraordinarily stoic on the mound," Busam said. "If there are runners on second on third, or we're up 11-1, you can't tell a difference. It's impressive at such a young age how composed she is.
"She has a great positive attitude, and all the girls love her. She's been great to be around."
Sophomore catcher Kendra Carroll and Parker Frey both went 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI for Prairie Ridge, and Autumn Ledgerwood added a two-run single.
Julia Landmesser had a double for the Knights, and Alyson Alvarenga knocked in their lone run the sixth inning on an RBI groundout.
Grayslake North will play four games next week at Cocoa Beach, Florida, during their spring-break trip.
"I'm looking forward to team bonding, team building and getting to know each other better," Rodriguez said. "We'll have a few practices down there, too, so getting nice weather and getting some things done."
Prairie Ridge was 10-16 last spring and 7-11 in the Fox Valley Conference. This year's group is hoping for much bigger things.
"I'm definitely looking for a winning record this year," Harlow said. "I think we definitely have a chance in conference, and I'm looking for a lot of excitement and team camaraderie. We're excited to get out there and show them what we got."