While Metro Suburban Conference newcomer Glenbard South has had a major impact on the league’s softball race this spring, perennial favorites Riverside-Brookfield and Elmwood Park are still in the mix for the conference championship. The Bulldogs and Tigers split a pair of games last week, with Elmwood Park rolling to a 10-0 win on Saturday, while RB coasted to a 7-0 victory on Thursday.
The Bulldogs (9-5, 3-3 Metro Suburban Conference) managed just three hits in 17 at-bats against Elmwood Park during Saturday’s lopsided loss. Kiley Rusen, Emily Hastings and Kylie O’Connell each accounted for a hit. Riverside-Brookfield starter Rachel Denneny allowed nine runs – two earned – and seven hits over three innings of work. Aided by six RB errors, the host Tigers scored eight runs in the first inning.
“We just collapsed defensively,” RB coach John Vermillion said. “[Our series with Elmwood Park] was really a tale of two games. After playing so well when we beat them, we struggled on Saturday.”
O’Connell relieved Denneny, giving up one run and one hit in an inning.
The Tigers’ win served as payback for the host Bulldogs’ impressive 7-0 victory earlier last week. Riverside-Brookfield scored three runs in the opening frame as Rusen (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) led off with a single, Molly Ely was hit by a pitch, and Becky Mantel sacrificed the runners to second and third. Hastings smacked a single to center scoring Rusen and Ely for a 2-0 lead.
Riverside-Brookfield kept the pressure on scoring three more runs in the second inning. With Maggie Zeleny on second base via a single and sacrifice from Tierney Duffy, Rusen (.447 batting average) crushed a triple to left-center to give her team a 4-0 advantage. The Bulldogs tacked on two more runs aided by a pair of Elmwood Park errors to seize a 6-0 cushion after two innings.
Ashlee Haugh went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored and Kelly Ely also finished 2-for-3 for the Bulldogs, who had 10 hits and two walks in 25 plate appearances.
The Bulldogs plated another run in the third for a 7-0 lead, which was more than enough support for O’Connell (7-3, 1.65 ERA). The junior pitcher threw five scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out two. Denneny chipped in two innings of work, allowing no runs and fanning two hitters.
“We played flawless softball,” Vermillion said. “We had no errors, timely hitting, and our pitchers didn’t walk anybody as usual. I think when we got that big lead early that put [Elmwood Park] on their heels.”
Glenbard South (4-0 in Metro Suburban), Elmwood Park (3-1) and defending champion RB (3-3) figure to battle it out for the conference title the rest of the regular season.