The Riverside-Brookfield High School girls softball team showcased one of the best hitting tandems in the area last season with Lana Herrmann and Kendall Hastings.
Herrmann slugged a team-high 13 home runs (following 8 in 2014), while Hastings hit .461 with five homers and 27 RBIs. The run-producing duo seemingly was always in the mix of any scoring bursts for RBHS, which finished 16-17 last season.
Herrmann has moved on to play softball at Emory University in Atlanta, where she hasn’t skipped a beat hitting .358 with six home runs and 19 RBIS for the 25-1 Eagles.
Hastings returns to RBHS this spring as the team’s top player with support from fellow all-conference returner Taylor Holin (hit .326 last season), senior catcher Cameron Shaw and junior pitching ace Alivia Ranieri.
While Hastings’ return ensures a proven, powerful bat in the middle of the order, the Bulldogs’ overall style of play might offer a different look this spring.
“At the plate, we relied on Lana and Kendall hitting bombs for us in the past,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said. “This season, we have three capable slap hitters and speed on the right side of the plate. I think we will be able to generate some offense in a variety of ways, plus we’ll still have power with Kendall and some of the others.”
In the infield, Hastings is the first baseman while promising freshmen Kailyn Ngo and Lauren Lambros are starting at second base and shortstop, respectively. Junior Marissa McDermott, a second-year varsity player, holds down third base.
“I’m excited about the two freshmen we have in the middle of in the infield,” Schultz said. “Kailyn is a speedy lefty slapper with huge promise. Lauren has power to the opposite field and she’s a good replacement as our No. 2 hitter for Katie O’Connell.”
Holin, the leader in the outfield, will be joined by sophomore Bailey Hastings and junior Amanda Martinez. Hastings will also back up her older sister, Kendall, at first. Martinez is one of the fastest players on the team.
Although she can’t replace Herrmann’s power, Shaw should flourish behind the plate. She’s a four-year varsity player who is a good hitter and handles the pitching staff well.
“Cammie shared playing time with Lana at catcher a couple of years ago. Last season, she kind of took a beat seat to Lana and absorbed some things,” Schultz said. “Cammie is one of our captains and makes our team run. She’s our leader defensively and keeps everyone going.
“I think she will fill that leadership role that Lana had. I’m not saying she has to be Lana but just lead in her own way.”
Shaw is charged with handling a deep staff of five pitchers. Ranieri, who gained valuable experience last season, is the Bulldogs’ unquestioned ace. She’s backed up by sophomores Nora Dachota and Tori Blood, senior Jordan Huffman and junior Hanna Bilek.
The depth of the rotation is reflective of the entire roster.
“We have a deeper group this year than we have had in the past,” Schultz said. “There aren’t definite starters at pretty much any position. We’ll be able to use a variety of player combinations and different lineups.
“Offensively, we have a nice mix of speed, slapping and power so we can put together different lineups based off need. On defense, we’re starting two freshmen middle infielders but they come in with high skills. Then some of the other girls have three years’ experience so it’s a nice mix.”
RBHS lost its season opener 8-1 to Fenwick on March 16.
“It was 3-1 in the fifth so I don’t think the final score was indicative of the quality of the game,” Schultz said. “We actually had a really clean fielding game, but just couldn’t put our bats on the ball. I also thought we handled the conditions well.
“I anticipate us fighting each and every game like we have the in the past,” said Schultz, who enters his third season at the helm. “I really like the direction the program is headed in.”
The Bulldogs host Fenton on Thursday, March 24 at 4:30 p.m. at Veterans Park in North Riverside.