Since softball coach Emily Matthews took over the Nazareth High School program two years ago, all the Roadrunners have done is win 62 games and set school records.
Nazareth defeated Montini 3-0 on June 5 to earn its first supersectional title in school history. In its own sectional final, the host Roadrunners rallied with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to stun Lemont 4-3.
Although the Roadrunners struggled offensively (5 hits in 2 games) at the Class 3A state tournament with a pair of losses to Marengo [1-0] in the semifinals and Rochester [3-0] in the third-place game, Nazareth keeps raising the bar for the program.
“After this season, I think the future of Nazareth’s softball program is bright,” said senior Gloria Corona. “This year we were able to set a path for the future of the softball program by exemplifying that it is possible to reach the goal of not only winning the ESCC (East Suburban Catholic Conference), but also making it down to state.”
Corona, a Brookfield resident, and teammates Taylor Gipson, Krystal Levitske, Ciara Mardirosian and Devyn Zuro each earned all-conference recognition. Matthews, who guided the Roadrunners to their first conference title, was named the ESCC Coach of the Year.
“Our coach Emily and the rest of the coaching staff have changed the dynamic of the softball program,” Corona said. “They are more open and laid backabout interacting with the players. For example, during practices we could make jokes or have conversations about random things but still remain focused on what we were doing in practice.”
At state, as often is the case, Nazareth simply ran into some tremendous pitchers. In their semifinal loss to eventual Marengo, Nazareth shortstop Jeanine Mantooth and second baseman Emily Zalewski had a hit apiece against Mariah Dionne (19-5), who threw a complete game with one walk and 10 strikeouts.
Zuro (14-5) pitched well for Nazareth, going 6 2/3 innings with four hits allowed and one earned run plus seven strikeouts.
In the third-place game, Rochester scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth en route to a 3-0 win. Corona, Mardirosian and Julia Dallmann each had a hit for the Roadrunners.
Nazareth, the top seed in its own sectional, justified its lofty ranking by defeating four opponents by a collective score of 43-4.
“We have no superstars on this team so their collective belief in themselves and each other to accomplish anything makes this incredibly special,” Coach Matthews said in a press release. “Our success stems from the girls’ unwavering belief in the five core team values they chose early in the year – efficiency, perseverance, heart, motivation and versatility. These five values have allowed us to overcome failures and shortcomings throughout the season, propelling us to be in a spot mentally to achieve such amazing things.”