After string of losses, softball is motivated for future successes

Despite its first game being scheduled for Mar. 19, the girls softball team didn’t actually end up playing together until Apr. 2 because of cancelled games over inclement weather.

“It’s been rainy and cold and sometimes snowy,” explains junior team member Kelsey Blickenstaff.

Once the team was finally able to kick off its season with a doubleheader against Loyola Academy though, things didn’t exactly turn out too stellar. Between the two games, Loyola accumulated a grand total of 24 runs—11 in the first game and 13 in the second—and was even able to hold Evanston scoreless. In fact, each game of the double header only lasted four innings as opposed to the usual seven due to mercy rule. But even then, it snowed that day, so who knows if it would have even been possible for the games to have been played in full.

Three days later on Apr. 5, the softball squad was looking to improve as much as it could from Loyola in its dual against Maine West. On the offensive side, this was much achieved. The Kits collected a grand total of six hits between Blickenstaff, senior Eva Eiseman, sophomore Lexi Lennon, freshman Delila Liston and sophomore Frances Heldt. In fact, Liston even managed to go two-for-two that day with a walk and an RBI. While the Wildkits found themselves with a comfortable 3-1 lead after the top of the fifth, the Warriors fought back, and managed to tie the game going into the seventh. But unfortunately, Evanston just wasn’t able to produce any offense that inning, and Maine West ended up winning on a walk-off, 4-3.

Blickenstaff reflects on what the team has room to improve on going into midseason.

“We’re definitely working on offense, [and] I think that was what we struggled with the most. Making contact and putting the ball into play is key, and also making sure to back up our pitchers on defense,” she says regarding the Loyola and Maine South losses.

Nevertheless, even if the season may not have started off the way the team wanted it to, its players have been working hard since January, participating in twice-weekly open gyms, and are not prepared to let just a few bad games deter the rest of their season—It’s been just too long of a road to let that happen. 

Since tryouts, the team has practiced nearly every day, rain or shine. In the event of uncooperative weather, practice usually ends up being moved to the fieldhouse, and due to scheduling difficulties, may be held as early as six in the morning. 

“It’s really hard to get space because we’re not an indoor sport and indoor sports get priority, so we just have to take whatever’s left…it’s really hard to play in the fieldhouse at six AM,” Blickenstaff opines.

Compared to last season, the varsity team is down seven class of 2021 seniors, including multiple starters, as well as sophomore hitter-pitcher combo Serafina Goodwill—whose laundry list of accomplishments includes hitting three home runs in a single game against Glenbrook North, and striking out 15 batters against Lincoln Park last season—due a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. As a result of this, many underclassmen are stepping into key roles on the varsity team this year, including the aforementioned Heldt, Lennon, and Liston as well as freshman pitcher Maya Nelson.

Although the season may not have started out the way the program wanted it to, early losses with such a young team rarely tend to be a good indicator of future success. If anything, it remains true that the sky’s the limit for girls softball when it comes to how far they may progress this season and beyond

Let’s just hope it doesn’t snow again.