Riverside-Brookfield softball coach John Vermillion knows outstanding pitching and defense have been the keys to the Bulldogs’ success this season. Since a 5-4 start, RB has won 12 of 14 games due in large part to the contributions of effective control pitchers Kylie O’Connell and Rachel Denneny coupled with the Bulldogs’ superb glove work.

With victories over St. Ignatius, Queen of Peace and Argo, the Bulldogs (17-6) showed last week they are capable of putting plenty of runs on the scoreboard as well. While third baseman Kiley Rusen has been the Bulldogs’ most prolific hitter with a .506 average, three home runs and 30 RBIs, Emily Hastings, Becky Mantel, Kelly Ely and Molly Ely also have hit well this spring

After losing 7-3 against St. Ignatius in Game 1 of a doubleheader at UIC on Saturday, RB got its offense rolling with a 12-4 victory in Game 2. Up 5-3 after four innings, the Bulldogs scored five runs in the fifth to break the nonconference game open. Kelly Ely, Molly Ely and Rusen collected two hits apiece, while Denneny (8-2, 2.18 ERA) scattered nine hits and struck our four in a complete-game effort.

The Bulldogs battled back for a 15-4 win over Queen of Peace in Burbank on Thursday. The Pride led 4-0 after two innings, but RB exploded for seven runs in the third and three runs in the fourth to take a commanding 10-4 edge. The Bulldogs tacked on five runs in the sixth inning to end the game.

With 20 hits in 36 at-bats, hitting stars were many against the Pride: Kelly Ely (2-for-3), Molly Ely (3-for-4, 3 RBIs), Cassie Cook (3-for-4), Ashlee Haugh (2-for-4, 2 RBIs), Rusen (3-for-5, 2 doubles), Mantel (2-for-4) and Hastings (1-for-4, 2 RBIs) sparked the RB attack.

Denneny, who helped her cause by driving in three runs, earned the victory by working four scoreless innings in relief of junior Kyle O’Connell.

RB also rolled past Argo 17-8 on last week. The Bulldogs again scored in bunches, posting four runs in the second inning, five runs in the third, a run in the fourth, and two more in the top of the fifth to seize a 12-0 lead over the host Argonauts. Argo responded with eight runs over the last three innings; however, the Bulldogs stayed hot offensively, pushing five runs across the plate in the seventh inning to seal their 17-8 victory.

Rusen had a brilliant all-around game by finishing 4-for-5 with seven RBIs, two runs scored, two doubles and three stolen bases. Kelly Ely, Cook, and Denneny all chipped in four hits apiece, while Maggie Zeleny went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Meghan Orgler contributed a two-RBI hit.

With the state playoffs starting in two weeks, the Bulldogs were awarded the top seed in the St. Francis Sectional last week. Glenbard South, St. Francis, Nazareth and Queen of Peace round out the top five of the 17-team sectional.