Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Lana Herrmann’s softball statistics are indisputably impressive: four home runs, 23 RBIs, 19 runs scored, 14 walks, four triples, seven doubles, a .904 slugging percentage and a 1.447 on-base plus slugging (all team-highs).
However, a closer look inside the numbers reveals Herrmann’s best value comes to light in clutch situations.
Ask head coach Doug Schultz, any members of his coaching staff or the players, and everybody around the RBHS softball program will tell you the team’s best performance occurred April 25 in a 4-3 loss to two-time defending state champion Glenbard South. Even though the Raiders (a perennial nemesis of RBHS) emerged with the victory, the game offered a glimpse of the Bulldogs’ considerable potential.
Not surprisingly, Herrmann flourished in the heat of that defining battle, knocking in two of the three runs RBHS scored with a leadoff homer in the sixth inning and a two-out RBI single in the seventh inning. Herrmann’s heroics tied the game on both occasions.
In other notable April performances, Herrmann crushed a grand slam in the Bulldogs’ 16-11 victory against Fenton. She also hit the go-ahead triple in a 5-2 win over Westmont as RBHS scored five runs in the seventh to pull off a rousing victory.
“I tend to hit better in big situations,” Herrmann said. “I have a lot of energy and get caught up in our team’s momentum during those moments. I just know that I have to get the ball in play somehow, because it’s my job to score the runner in any way possible.”
Aside from her offensive prowess, Herrmann is a versatile asset on defense. She has seen the bulk of her playing time as either the Bulldogs’ starting center fielder or catcher, but the lanky, athletic junior can also play the corner positions in both the infield and outfield.
Perhaps due to the inherent nature of playing behind the plate, Herrmann relishes her time as a catcher.
“The catcher needs to really bring the entire team together and direct all the players,” she said. “The pitcher depends on the catcher for pitch calls and helping her maintain confidence and focus.”
Along with fellow junior Katie O’Connell, the Bulldogs’ top pitcher, and sophomore infielder Kendall Hastings, Herrmann is part of a prolific middle of the order which has produced all season for RBHS. Hastings is hitting .560 and O’Connell .484. Collectively they have knocked in 30 runs in front of the slugging Herrmann.
“I’ve been playing with Lana for years, and we always know how to pump each other up,” Hastings said. “We say to each other a lot, ‘when you go, I go,’ and then we both gets hits to start a rally. She’s really good at getting big hits for us. It’s too bad we don’t have a fence on our home field, because she would have had so many more home runs.”
While Herrmann is currently entrenched as the Bulldogs’ best power hitter, she plays for multiple teams during the year. In the fall, she is a 5-foot-11-inch middle hitter on the RBHS volleyball team and also travels with the Oak Park Windmills softball team. Off the field, the Riverside resident is involved with student government at RBHS.
“I love RB because it provides me great opportunities to pursue whatever I want to do,” Herrmann said. “I view this season as a huge building year with our new coaching staff in place for RB softball. My goal is to help be a building block of restarting RB’s tradition of success.”
RBHS is 9-13 with a 3-3 record in the Metro Suburban Conference, already a marked improvement from the 2013 team which finished a disappointing 11-21 after reeling off 10 regional titles in the previous 11 seasons.
Herrmann hopes to play softball in college.
“I need to work on improving my defense to become a more effective catcher,” she said. “I can also be a little more confident at the plate as a hitter.”
That’s certainly a scary thought considering Herrmann currently leads the Bulldogs in eight offensive categories.