The fact that Evanston’s softball team concluded play in the month of April after scoring in double figures in 10 of their first 18 games showed just how good an overall offensive team the Wildkits have become under head coach Katie Perkins.
Anyone who picked up a bat in April can confirm the fact that all of that hitting took place in less than ideal weather conditions that required batting gloves just to keep warm.
When the calendar flipped to May on Tuesday and Glenbrook South paid a visit, the Wildkits showed another characteristic of a good offensive squad — the ability to hit faster enemy pitching.
On a day where winners didn’t hit many line drives, and when gusty winds made every ball hit in the air an adventure, Lucy Hart drove in the winning run by scorching a line drive that Glenbrook South shortstop Maddie Kapsimalis couldn’t handle with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Zoe Canafax crossed with the winning run for a 4-3 triumph that kept Evanston atop the Central Suburban League South division standings with a 6-1 record. It marked the second 1-run decision for the Kits against the Titans this spring as they improved to 14-4-1 overall.
Evanston totaled 7 hits, including a one-out double over the left fielder’s head by Canafax to start the game-winning rally. She moved to third on an infield out, and scored when the left-handed hitting Hart rapped a laser at Kapsimalis. The GBS shortstop fumbled the catch, then threw wildly to first base as Hart reached safely to end the game.
“We found a way to win. That’s a play that shortstop probably makes 9 times out of 10,” Perkins said. “Zoe had the clutch hit to set us up for the win, but I would’ve liked to see better contact from our hitters today. I anticipated a bigger showing by our offense today against their pitching. It should be easier for the hitters to adjust from a slow pitcher to a faster pitcher. We didn’t do a good job of hitting down on the ball like we wanted to.
“The conference championship is right there for us and we should have come out stronger. The kids have been swinging the bats well the entire month of April and we’re really happy with that, because they’ve done quite a bit of work on their swings. We just did enough to squeak by today.”
Evanston couldn’t solve soft-tossing GBS starter Sophia Albrecht until the second time through the batting order. Freshman Chloe Haack was hit by a pitch to start the third inning, and after a Canafax bunt, the Kits finally broke loose with consecutive singles by Meg Eisfelder, Hart, Molly Chambers and Yese Montoya to pull into a 3-3 tie.
Harder-throwing GBS reliever Sami Nash tossed 3 hitless innings, although several of the hosts made solid contact, before Canafax set up the game-winning rally in the seventh.
Winning pitcher Molly Chambers yielded three runs and three hits in the first before settling in and finishing with a 5-hitter. She fanned 6 in a distance performance.
Evanston’s defense had a new look after starting shortstop Caroline Job was benched in accordance with existing team rules. She had missed Saturday’s doubleheader sweep against Elk Grove due to a college visit, and Haack replaced her at shortstop and contributed 4 assists and 2 putouts before Job entered the contest in the fifth.
The freshman’s versatility — she can play any position in the outfield or infield, including catcher — is one reason she started the season with the varsity.
“Chloe really gives us a lot of versatility,” Perkins praised. “She’s really done a heckuva job for us as a utility player. We moved her up to that No. 1 (leadoff) slot and she had a couple of triples for us on Saturday, and I think we’re going to keep her there.
“Grade really doesn’t matter to me. I just want kids who are the best fit for us, and I certainly wasn’t going to pull a freshman up to the varsity to sit on the bench. I don’t believe in that.”
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.