After Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of York, Riverside-Brookfield softball coach John Vermillion gathered his pumped up players to calmly remind them “two wins is two wins.”
While the Bulldogs’ 9-8 and 8-7 extra-inning victories over the Dukes obviously only count as a pair of W’s in their record ledger, RB pulled off the victories in undeniably thrilling fashion.
After squandering an 8-2 lead in the opener, the Bulldogs finally closed the door on York when Kylie O’Connell executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Becky Mantel for the win. Alyssa Johnson brought York (4-7) back into the game with a pair of titanic three-run homers to square the score at 8-8.
Mantel gave RB a 4-0 lead in the second inning when she cracked a triple to score three runs and then promptly stole home. In the fourth, the Bulldogs tacked on two runs as Kiley Rusen walked followed by RBI singles from Tierney Duffy and Mantel.
In Game 2, the teams battled to a 6-6 tie leading into the seventh inning. Nicolette Salerno hit a sac fly to put York up 7-6. In the bottom of the frame, RB freshman catcher Lana Herrmann provided a clutch two-out single to score Mantel and knot the game again at 7-7. After O’Connell retired three straight York batters in the top of the eighth, the Bulldogs completed their sweep via Mantel’s single which scored Meghan Orgler.
“I was just looking to go with the pitch, make contact and get it through,” Mantel said about the game-winning knock. “We were able to stay strong after some tough losses [5-3, 2-1 to Glenbard South] last week. We have incredible chemistry and good talent.”
RB all-time hits leader Kiley Rusen provides a lethal bat in the leadoff position while Duffy is a solid table setter.
“I’ve been working hard,” Rusen said after breaking Lindsay Hayes’ record of 155 career hits, “and my teammates really helped me get [the record] with all their cheering. [Today] was awesome because we got timely hitting which always comes in handy and our pitching came together.”
Mantel (.575, 2 HRs, 25 RBIs) and Hastings (.425, 12 RBIs) supply the thunder in the middle of the order. With increased playing time, Herrmann has the look of a future star. She had a triple, two doubles, drove in three runs and scored once in the second game against York.
Ashlee Haugh, Annabelle Gardiner, Emma Schander, Megan Frey, Allie Parcel and Jasmin Castaneda have also contributed this season.
Aside from sweeping York and dropping two games to Glenbard South, the Bulldogs blasted Regina 15-2 in a nonconference matchup last week. Mantel belted a three-run homer and drove in six runs, while Rusen (4-for-4, two RBIs) and Kelly Ely (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) provided additional punch.