The softball rivalry between Riverside-Brookfield High School and Lyons Township High School carried an interesting subtext Saturday as RB starting pitchers/sisters Kylie and Katie O’Connell squared off against the Lions’ top two hurlers/sisters Alyssa and Ashley Koziol.
The O’Connell siblings earned bragging rights as the Bulldogs won both games over LT 4-0 and 7-2 at Veterans Park in North Riverside.
The other highlight of the day for the Bulldogs (5-2) came courtesy of their outstanding senior Kiley Rusen. The Valdosta State (Georgia) recruit, who is hitting around .700 this spring, broke the RB record for career hits when she tallied her 156th, surpassing previous record-holder Lindsay Hayes.
Rusen’s stellar work against LT included six hits and a walk in seven at-bats, three RBI and five runs scored.
In the opener, Emily Hastings and Kylie O’Connell smacked run-scoring doubles in the first inning to give RB a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs added a run in the second frame when Meghan Orgler singled and advanced to second base on Tierney Duffy’s sacrifice bunt. Rusen promptly knocked Orgler home with an RBI single. In the fifth, Rusen singled again and scored on single by Hastings.
The Bulldogs’ four runs proved more than enough support for Kylie O’Connell (3-2), who tossed a complete game six-hitter. LT catcher Skye Riddle finished 2-for-3 and reached base three times, but the Lions struggled offensively against the efficient O’Connell.
In the second game, freshman Katie O’Connell (2-0) backed up her big sister’s effort by allowing just two earned runs and scattering seven hits in another complete game gem. The O’Connell sisters, collectively, have walked only three batters in seven games this season.
“Our pitching has been very good and we’re playing flawless defense,” RB coach John Vermillion said. “We could easily be 7-0 [now], but we didn’t have timely hitting in a couple of games.”
Moving into the leadoff spot on Saturday, Rusen was all over the base paths in game two, finishing 3-for-3 with a double, two singles, a walk, a stolen base, two RBI and three runs scored. Hastings (2-for-4, three RBI) also starred offensively for RB.
Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Bulldogs had five straight hits, highlighted by senior Becky Mantel’s triple which plated two runs. Kelly Ely and Lana Hermann also played well for RB.
LT second baseman Nicole Magets went 3-for-3 at the plate, while Ashley Koziol, Leyla Aiyash and Lauren Huebner all collected two hits apiece in the second game. The Lions (0-2) scored their two runs in the third when Magets smacked a leadoff double and scored on Huebner’s RBI single. Chelsea Grady chipped in a single to bring home Huebner.
Prior to their confidence-building sweep of LT, the Bulldogs split four games earlier last week. RB routed Willowbrook 7-1 and 10-1 last Wednesday, but endured a tough 2-0 loss to De La Salle and a 2-1 loss to Fenwick. RB had nine hits in both losses but left too many runners on base.
Kylie O’Connell had a perfect game through 4.2 innings against Fenwick, but the Friars ultimately dealt her a tough luck loss via a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.
RB plays four games this week, featuring a pair of single game showdowns with Metro Suburban Conference rival Glenbard South. The Raiders hosted RB in Glen Ellyn yesterday after press time and will visit RB on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The Bulldogs also welcome in York for a Saturday doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.