The best way to deal with a power outage? Keep that switch flipped to the “on” position at all times.
That’s one lesson Evanston softball coach Katie Perkins tried to get across to her players this weekend at the Mustang Stampede tournament at Rolling Meadows.
After being held scoreless for 12 consecutive innings in losses to Geneva (16-0) and Palatine (5-0), the Wildkits finally broke loose and dumped host Rolling Meadows 11-1 Saturday to earn 7th place in the 8-team field.
Evanston (12-5 overall) banged out 12 hits in the slaughter rule victory, a complete reversal of form that puzzled Perkins even though the second-year coach was glad to see her charges end the weekend on a winning note.
“It’s like we turn the light switch on and off, and when it’s on, we do very well,” Perkins pointed out. “For us it’s about our mental blocks that sometimes get in our way. Mental preparation is a huge part of the game and that’s been our downfall in every single game we’ve lost this year.
“We need to find a way to turn that light switch on — permanently.”
Winning pitcher Molly Chambers struck out 5 and also drove in a pair of runs for the winners with a 2-for-3 performance in the second game Saturday. Earlier, Chambers tossed four innings of hitless relief versus Palatine, and on the day the freshman excelled in the circle, allowing only 3 hits and 1 unearned run in 10 innings of work.
The Wildkits pounced on Rolling Meadows starter Kendra Herring for four runs in the first inning and ETHS senior Jaden Janzen knocked her out of the game in the third with a vicious line drive that injured the right-hander’s pitching hand.
ETHS kept up the pressure on reliever Elise Kowalski, adding four runs in the fourth and two in the sixth to bring the game to an early halt. Rolling Meadows finished last despite stacking Evanston’s side of the bracket with three teams (Whitney Young, Palatine and Geneva) that came into the tournament with double figure wins.
RBI singles by Meg Eisfelder, Hannah Schaps, Gwyn Hodges and Chambers accounted for the four-run outburst in the first, when line drives were booming off ETHS bats again. Janzen’s single and three wild pitches boosted the advantage to 5-0 in the top of the third inning.
Evanston scored all four of its runs in the second with two outs. Janzen’s bad-hop single off the second baseman kept the inning alive, the right fielder dropped Eisfelder’s long fly ball, and Schaps, Hodges and Chambers ripped consecutive singles to help put the game out of reach.
Two walks, two wild pitches and an Eisfelder double accounted for the rest of the scoring in the sixth.
Rolling Meadows snapped Chambers’ hitless string in the second with a two-out double from Stephanie Thompson and only mustered two singles after that against the freshman righty.
In the first game of the day, Palatine righty Sarah Grossman teased the Kits with her rise ball and produced most of her 10 strikeouts with that pitch. Still, the Kits did outhit the winners 6-5 and had baserunners in every inning but the seventh.
“Our offense just didn’t show up against Palatine,” Perkins said.
Senior second baseman Gwyn Hodges had her best day at the plate this season, going 1-for-3 against Palatine and adding a 2-for-4 performance in the second game. “I’m very pleased with the way that Gwyn played,” said the ETHS coach. “She had the best approach at the plate today, and if you can put the bat on the ball, we’ll find a spot for you on defense in our lineup. But every day is a battle for a starting job here.”
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.