Riverside-Brookfield senior Lana Herrmann and Lyons Township junior Delanie Cruz already are off to powerful starts this high school softball season.
On Saturday, they each hit two home runs during the teams’ high-scoring doubleheader split in Western Springs.
In their season opener, the Lions won the first game 17-5 in six innings. Cruz’s first homer, a three-run blast over LT’s 200-foot outfield fence, ended the game by virtue of the 10-run rule.
Herrmann had both of her homers in the second game as the Bulldogs (3-2) prevailed 13-6. Herrmann led the 2014 Bulldogs with seven homers.
“The first three games this year I did feel like I was pressing myself too hard and I felt tense in the box,” Herrmann said. “On my first home run, I was just like, ‘All right. I’m going to see the ball and I’m just going to put it somewhere,’ and it just happened to be over the fence.”
A brisk breeze helped several players enjoy offensive success. In the first game, RBHS junior Kendall Hastings hit her second homer this season and LTHS senior Grace Delleman homered after having just 15 at bats in 2014.
LTHS junior Marina Gonzalez (3-for-3) and RBHS senior Tricia Scalise (3-for-4, 4 RBIs) each doubled twice in the second game. Herrmann (3-for-4), RBHS senior Katie O’Connell (2-for-2) and LTHS senior Alexus Pelletiere and juniors Riley Frisbie and Maggie Vacchiano also doubled in the game.
In the first game, RBHS freshman Sophia Spirios doubled and LTHS juniors Taylor Kohn and Sam Lattner had two singles.
“The wind definitely helped with a lot of those balls. I said it can be horrible or good for us. (It was) a little bit of both,” LTHS coach Dawn Schabacker said. “We had a lot of offense the first game, not enough the second game. But we saw a lot of things happen that I’m like, ‘Wow. We need to work on a few things.’ “
Last season, the Bulldogs were swept by the Lions in the doubleheader and had a 10-run loss to Willowbrook, which only beat them 4-0 Friday.
“We know we can play with teams like this, but for us it’s just keeping that positive mental attitude,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said. “Instead of just telling them that they’re better, now they can believe because they actually witnessed us come back and play a good game in the second game.”
One of four sophomore starters for LTHS in 2014, Cruz had 10 doubles, a triple but no homers. Saturday’s first homer completed a six-run sixth. She actually homered in consecutive at-bats because the next came as the Lions’ leadoff hitter for the second game.
“Last year I was really big on doubles. Now I’m doubling it,” Cruz said with a laugh. “It felt good. (Schabacker) was like, ‘All we need is a base hit (to win the opener),’ and I’m like, ‘All right. I’ve got this.’ And then I got a home run. It was like, ‘Ah, that’s even better.’
“I’m trying to be more of a leader just because I’ve already had the experience with the coaches. Every coach is different. I know (Schabacker’s) way and I’m just trying to bring everybody towards Schaz’s way and we can all bond and go together that way.”
Both teams used three pitchers. Vacchiano allowed just one unearned run over the first four innings of the first game with three strikeouts to get the win. Senior Elizabeth DiMonte won the second game with O’Connell getting the final five outs for her first save.
“It’s awesome to beat LT because they’re a neighborhood team but also because we performed pretty poorly last year against them,” Herrmann said. “I think that everyone’s a lot more supportive of each other and overall throughout the whole lineup. We have confidence in everyone. I just think the team dynamic has improved 10-fold.”