Lake County softball notes: Warren starts strong in NSC play
The Warren softball team kicked off the North Suburban Conference portion of its schedule in fine fashion.
The Blue Devils scored recent conference wins against Libertyville (4-1) and Stevenson (6-1) to move to 7-2 overall.
Sydney Jackson allowed only 1 hit on her way to a win against Libertyville, while Hannah Conger went 2-for-4 and struck a home run in the first inning.
To start the week, Conger was hitting .484 with a .529 on-base percentage to go with 2 homers and 7 RBI. Cam Vawter had a .400 batting average, while Gabi Olavarria was hitting .357 with 10 RBI. Jackson started the week with a 2.50 ERA.
"We are continuing to improve defensively," Warren coach Jenna Charbonneau said. "We take pride in our defense and are looking to continue to be a top-tier defensive team."
Kaitlyn Weidemann and Katelyn Siurek also have been key cogs of late for the Blue Devils.
"Kaitlyn has been hitting the ball hard recently and getting on base in key situations," Charbonneau said. "Katelyn stepped up in a big way on our trip south and is continuing to impress."
The Mustangs were 5-2 overall to start the week after sweeping a doubleheader from Glenbrook South (15-5 in 5 innings and 14-6) and losing to Hersey 5-4.
In the opener against Glenbrook, The Mustangs pounded out 13 hits with every batter in the lineup recording at least one hit. Claire Connelly went 2-for-2 in the finale with a homer and 4 RBI, while Lillian Scardicchio went 3-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBI. Taiylor Egbert was 3-for-4.
In the loss to Hersey, freshman Casey Vyverman provided a defensive gem. "Casey had a diving full-layout catch at shortstop that would have been on ESPN's Top 10 plays," Mundelein coach Kat McCreery noted.
To start the week, freshman Shae Johnson was 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA and had 29 strikeouts against only 7 walks in 26 innings. Sophomore Sophia Zepeda was 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20 innings of work.
"Shae is a freshman pitcher and first baseman and has commanded the mound and at the plate since our first game of the season," McCreery said.
Egbert, a senior, was hitting .524 to start the week, while Connelly was at .429 and freshman Kieley Tomas was at .417. Egbert was leading the team in RBI with eight, while Johnson had seven. Connelly had a 1.000 slugging percentage, while Egbert was at .905.
McCreery said Mundelein is making nice strides on defense of late. "Our defense continues to improve because we are able to practice more on our dirt infield," she said. "The girls' trust in one another both on offense and defense continues to improve. Many of our girls have never played on a team together before. Our typical starting lineup is 3 freshmen, 3 sophomores, 1 junior and 3 seniors."
McCreery said the team's recent spring out-of-town trip also made a difference. "How impactful our spring trip was with bringing our team together," she said, when asked to describe something else notable about the team.
A win over Daily Herald No. 4 Buffalo Grove (2-1) and a doubleheader sweep of Jacobs (17-1 and 15-0) put Antioch at 7-0 to start the week.
In the BG win, Emily Brecht hit a solo homer and Jacey Schuler struck out 17 and allowed no earned runs. In the opener against Harry D. Jacobs, Antioch scored all 17 of its runs in the second inning. Schuler hit a grand slam and a 3-run homer in the finale.
Schuler started the week 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA to go with 52 strikeouts in 24 innings. She has not allowed any runs since the team's first game of the season against Hersey. Antioch's staff ERA is 0.71 with 73 strikeouts in 36 innings. Antioch allowed only 2 earned runs during a recent four-game stretch.
Offensively, Brecht is hitting .714 with a double, 3 homers, 8 RBI and 7 runs scored. Eden Echevarria is at .476 with a double, 2 homers, 8 RBI and 10 runs scored. Antioch started the week hitting .478 as a team.
Sequoits coach Anthony Rocco noted one major improvement with his team has been base running. Antioch has already stolen 23 bases this season coming off 63 steals last year and 68 in 2021. "The biggest improvement over the last three seasons is our stolen bases," he said.
Also of note, Antioch committed no errors in its first seven games.
Rocco also likes how Syerra Gilmore and Sam Hillner have played of late. Gilmore is 2-0 with a 0.70 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 10 innings. She also starts at third where she is hitting .571. Gilmore threw 6 1/3 innings of relief in Antioch's sectional title win over Wauconda in 2021 and sports a career varsity record of 16-1. "She's our second ace on the staff," Rocco said.
Hillner, a freshman, is hitting .538 with 3 doubles, 2 homers and 5 RBI to go with 10 runs scored. Rocco is also high on Claire Schuyler's play. She's hitting .600 with 2 doubles, 1 home run, 9 RBI and has scored 4 runs. Hillner and Schuyler hit fifth and sixth in the order, "and have created outstanding offensive depth in our order," Rocco added.
Antioch, ranked No. 2 in the Class 3A coaches poll, is 17-1 over its last 18 games dating back to last year.
Lake Zurich update:
The Bears were 3-7 overall and 0-1 in North Suburban play to start the week.
Morgan Lesniewicz was leading the way with a .500 batting average.
"Morgan has stepped up as a leader on our team," Lake Zurich coach Kelly Hardbarger said. "She is leading the team with the highest batting average. She works hard every day and leads by example."
Zoe Hilton started the week with 32 strikeouts in the circle, including 11 called thirds.
Hardbarger also has been impressed with the team's chemistry this season.
Grayslake Central update:
The Rams started the season 0-3 with a losses to Grant (11-2), Libertyville (12-5) and Elk Grove (15-5).
Eliza Piggott and Kate Davies each had a double and an RBI for Central against Grant. It was Davies' first varsity hit and RBI. Angela Ayala was 2-for-4 with a run scored against Libertyville. Those were Ayala's first two varsity hits. Annie Wolff tripled and drove in her second run of the year against Elk Grove.
Wolff started the week hitting .375 with a 1.250 OPS.
"Our approach at the plate has been much better early on this year and we are really focusing on taking good at-bats consistently," Rams coach Jim Plaza said. "We have hit the ball hard consistently, even though we have hit into some tough luck, and we hope to continue that throughout the season. We also have run the bases intelligently and aggressively the first few games."
Plaza noted Ally Struck has been a catalyst for the Rams from the leadoff spot, while freshmen Davies and Ayala have shown versatility in the field. "They have adjusted well to the varsity level," he said.
Plaza said despite the 0-3 start, the Rams have continued to focus on getting better. "We are a resilient group that is not afraid of a challenge," he said. "I am confident that their work ethic and dedication to improving both as individuals and as a team with lead to great things in the future. We are excited to compete the rest of the season."
The Wildcats have packed plenty of action into the first few weeks of the season. Libertyville started the week 7-5 and on a three-game winning streak.
"We had a great trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee over spring break and played some very good competition," Libertyville coach Sean Ferrell said. "We started out slowly to begin the season, but I am very encouraged by how our kids stick together and play for each other."
Senior Finnley Olsen is 5-2 on the season pitching, while promising freshman Taylor Higham has kept the team in games all season, Ferrell noted.
"We have to continue to focus on the fundamentals on defense to support our pitchers and then we should be competitive as the season continues," Ferrell added.
Sophomore second baseman Adriana Callahan has led the way offensively, hitting .524 and leading the Cats in hits at the top of the order. "Adriana makes our offense go and is a very tough out," Ferrell noted.
Ferrell added the team has received strong contributions behind Callahan from senior shortstop Sam Whisenand and sophomores Makayla Boone and Zoe Kinsella.
"I am very pleased with Makayla, who leads our team in RBI hitting in the three-hole," Ferrell explained. "She doesn't strikeout and drives the ball in the gaps behind Sam and Adriana, and she and Zoe have the potential to go deep at any given time. Makayla is mature beyond her years and never gets too high or low."
Ferrell likes where things are heading for his group.
"Overall, I love our team attitude, and their desire to win and play for each other," he said. "We need to focus on ourselves and continue to stick to us doing the little fundamental things and then the big things will take care of themselves."
The Bulldogs started the week 8-4 and were off to a nice 2-0 start in Northern Lake County Conference action.
"We played top competition in Tennessee that prepared us for our upcoming schedule of games in April and May," Wauconda coach Tim Orisek said.
In recent action, Wauconda downed Belivdere North (15-0), Grayslake North (11-1), Rockford Auburn (15-0 and 12-6) and Round Lake (28-2), giving the Bulldogs a five-game stretch of wins where they outscored opponents 81-9.
Lesleigh Reimers started the week 4-2 with an 0.824 ERA to go with 44 strikeouts against only 2 walks. Bryn Lucht is hitting .564 with 22 hits, 2 homers and 17 RBI. Haley Baldwin is at .526 with 20 hits and 12 RBI.
Orisek also lauded the efforts of Alyssa Vodicka who hit .538 with 3 homers and 12 RBI during a recent four-game run.
"Alyssa is on a tear over the last four games," Orisek said. "She's really turned it on and has been helping the bottom of our order produce."
Orisek said the team's four losses all came by a run during the Tennessee trip.
"Overall, I am very happy with how we played," he said. "We are competing every game. This is a great group of girls to coach."
The Corsairs are another Lake County team that has started hot out of the gates. Carmel was 7-1 overall and 2-0 in East Suburban Catholic play to start the week. Carmel scored recent wins over Belvidere (20-3) and Nazareth Academy (16-10 and 10-3 in conference action) and lost 4-0 to Grant. Carmel had a combined 30 hits in the ESCC sweep of Nazareth.
Senior pitcher Madison DeBennette has faced 140 batters and has 53 strikeouts. She fanned 10 against Grant and nine against Nazareth. She had a 1.63 ERA to start the week.
Madison DeBennette has been outstanding on the mound," Carmel coach Kelli Layton said. "She brings the energy and focuses on one pitch at a time. She is an important leader for us on and off the field."
Freshman Grace King is hitting .500 with 15 hits and 18 RBI. Sophomore Grace Brown is hitting .483 with 14 hits and 17 RBI. Senior Camryn Rapplean has 13 hits, while senior Katie Novak has 11 hits.
Grace Brown has also stepped up," Layton noted. "Grace plays a very solid infield and is reliable at several positions. In addition, she has done great in the three-spot. She has been clutch in several situations and is dependable on offense and defense."
Overall, Layton noted Carmel has improved in the quality at-bats department. "Our players are working hard to understand the situation and be strategic," she said. "They have done a good job of focusing on the count, looking for their pitch and having disciplined at-bats. This team has a lot of fight in it. Their composure, as well as being fundamentally sound, keeps us in games and helps us to be successful."