Softball: Pasqualini's big day at the plate highlights Oswego East's win over West Aurora
May Pasqualini is pretty self-aware of what her approach at the plate should be, but it doesn't hurt the Oswego East senior to have an extra voice of support.
Pasqualini's dad, Mark, is the head softball coach at Aurora Central Catholic. It's a rare occasion that he's able to make May's games, but Monday was one of those times.
"When he does, I obviously enjoy it," Pasqualini said. "The days he can get here, he's good about making it work."
He certainly picked a good day to see his daughter in action.
Pasqualini had three hits and reached base all five times at the plate, leading Oswego East's 14-hit attack in a 13-1, six-inning win over visiting West Aurora in a Southwest Prairie West game.
The lefty-swinging Pasqualini doubled down the right-field line and scored in the first inning, then hit a hard grounder in the hole for a two-run single in the second for a 4-0 Oswego East lead. She reached on a hit by pitch and error her next two plate appearances, then singled in Ronnie Craft in a five-run sixth inning.
"I was just trying to make contact and take it up the middle, and ended up pulling a couple balls," said Pasqualini, who scored three runs. "I was just trying to put a good bat on it, take it up the middle, square it and hit a line drive somewhere."
That advice is apparently seconded by Pasqualini's dad.
"Every now and then he'll come up to the fence because I just need a pep talk, like 'You're fine, just square up the ball,' " said Pasqualini, a Missouri-St. Louis recruit. "He was telling me to hit it to the left side, go the other way. It's helpful to have him here."
Craft had three hits and scored three times, Mia Corres had two hits with an inside-the-park home run and reached base three times, and winning pitcher Kenzie Gatz had two hits and reached base three times for Oswego East (16-8, 8-4).
Pasqualini's big day at the plate was more of the same from what Oswego East coach Sarah Davies has been seeing lately from her No. 2 hitter.
"She's on a nice upward trajectory," Davies said. "She's just solid all-around, she's got the speed, she can place it really well, she can adjust in the moment, and she knows what she is looking for. She knew what kind of pitches she wanted, and adjusted to what they were giving her. She's just a nice solid contact hitter."
Pasqualini wasn't aware that she'd reached base five times Monday. She's just taking it at-bat by at-bat, an approach that's worked as she's moved back to the top of the lineup.
"I've definitely felt more confident recently," she said. "I've tried to stay within myself and focus on going up the middle. If I can hit it hard up the middle, the rest will take care of itself. I see a ton of outside pitches, so if I hit it middle-left, that that typically helps me barrel it up well."
Pasqualini, meanwhile, was at the receiving end of an effective if not overpowering outing from Gatz.
Gatz struck out six, and allowed just one unearned run on three hits. She was also the beneficiary of a spectacular defensive play by Corres, who made a leaping grab of a deep fly to center in the fifth.
"My defense definitely backed me up a lot today," Gatz said. "I didn't have a bunch of strikeouts. Ground balls, fly balls."
West Aurora, on the other hand, was hurt by five errors, and a number of wild pitches and passed balls that allowed Oswego East to take extra bases.
"We told them we can't let this game define us. Everybody has a bad day," Blackhawks coach Sara Nagy said. "We have to come back better and stronger tomorrow."
West Aurora junior pitcher Katelyn Serafin, who led the Blackhawks to a sectional title last year but has been limited to hitting and outfield work for most of the season after elbow surgery, made her second appearance of the spring in relief of Alyssa Perkins. She threw two innings last week against Plainfield Central, and one Monday.
"We're just easing her back. We don't want to overwork her and overwhelm her," Nagy said. "We're doing our best to ease her back in, keep her as healthy as possible for the playoffs, potentially. If she can't, we're not going to risk her at all."