Softball: Veller's hot bat helps Buffalo Grove beat Stevenson

Updated 5/27/2023 5:29 PM

After moving from first base to play shortstop in the last inning, Paige Veller caught a popup to shallow left for the final out of the game.

Before that, Veller was the toughest out in the championship game of the Glenbrook South Class 4A regional softball championship on Saturday in Glenview.


Her bat caught fire for the first 3-for-3 performance of her two-year varsity career and it helped ignite the offense of top-seeded and Mid-Suburban League champion Buffalo Grove in a 9-0 shutout over No. 8 Stevenson (14-11-1).

The top-seeded Bison (24-5), who won their third straight regional and sixth overall, will face No. 5 Libertyville (25-11) in Tuesday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal of the Warren sectional.

"I was just kind of thinking 'hit the runners in so we could score more,'" said Veller, the No. 7 hitter in the lineup whose first of three singles drove in the game's first 2 runs -- Jenna Kosnoff and Hannah Hull -- with one out in the second inning. "It felt really good."

Also really good in her first at-bat was No. 8 hitter McKenna Wagner, who followed Veller's base hit to center with a 2-run inside-the-park home run to right field giving BG a 4-0 lead.

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That proved plenty for ace left-hander Kate Ryan (11-4) who retired the first 10 batters she faced before Alyssa Shimanski was hit by a pitch and two batters later Michaela Duffy broke up the no-hitter with an infield single.

Ryan struck out six in six innings before moving to first base in the seventh when Kosnoff (13-1) took the mound and retired the side in order. Kosnoff also had 2 hits.

Catcher JJ Jakosalem went 2-for-4 for BG with a 2-run double to left center in the sixth followed by Kayla O'Malley's RBI triple to center for the 9-0 cushion.

"We talked to Paige about getting back to basics and getting her going," said BG coach Martha Kelly. "We knew at this point of the season everyone has to be contributing and she stepped up today so I'm very proud of her. McKenna has been seeing the ball really well lately. She does a good job of getting line drives and she has really come through."


Veller and second baseman Wagner combined for 5 RBI.

"It's a complete team," added first-year coach Kelly. "We've got pitching, hitting and we've got the defense going, too. Hannah Hull (third baseman) came up with a great catch of a line drive when they had two runners on base. Alyssa (Fontanetta) had a great catch in right field in the seventh. We turned in a couple of nice plays at second base (Kosnoff and Wagner). I'm very proud. Full team effort."

Sophia Becker and Abbie Lewis (double) also had hits for Stevenson.

Patriots coach India Steward used three pitchers (freshman Samantha Gotschewski, sophomore Aubrey Jepson and freshman Ava Potempa).

"Honestly, their pitcher (Ryan) kind of dominated us," Steward said. "We can't win with 3 hits the whole game.

"But we are a young team. Our pitchers did great. They're young and this was their first appearance in a regional championship. You could tell for us it was kind of a little nerves being their first time here. But overall I think they did great. They had a great season and we'll definitely be back."

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