The Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team is scoring runs in bunches this season. The Bulldogs (4-0) are hitting .528 as a team and have scored 60 runs in four games, highlighted by a 30-0 victory over Reavis in the season opener.
“We prepared very well for Reavis,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said. “They scored 15 runs in a few games and beat Nazareth, so we expected a tougher game. We played well and were up 24-0 after three innings, but it’s tough because you never want to disrespect a team and we respect Reavis.”
RBHS also routed Hinsdale South 18-6 and earned a 7-6 win against Nazareth, which finished fourth in the state in Class 3A last year.
The Bulldogs’ junior varsity also defeated Hinsdale South 15-3 in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
“We’re really happy with how the offense is performing right now,” Schultz said. “We can manufacture runs top to bottom.”
Senior Tori Blood, primarily used as a pitcher, leads the team in hitting with a .714 batting average. Sophomore catcher Emily Noel is hitting .625 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. Other top contributors include Abby Favela (.615), Kailyn Ngo (.556, 8 RBIs), Lauren Lambros (.545, 7 runs scored), Nadia Ranieri (.500, 10 RBIs) and Amy Kulaga (.438, 9 RBIs).
For all their offensive exploits, the Bulldogs actually trailed Willowbrook, Nazareth and Hinsdale South early in games. RBHS trailed Nazareth and Hinsdale South 6-2 in both games before rallying for 7-6 and 18-6 victories, respectively.
While there have been patches of spotty play, RBHS is never out of a game with its offense.
“Against Nazareth, [RBHS pitcher] Nora Dachota gave up four runs in the first and two in the second, but we didn’t support her well. We gave Nazareth a six-out first inning,” Schultz said. “Nadia Ranieri came on in relief and closed it out to give us a chance.”
In addition to her work in relief, Ranieri knocked in two runs in the seventh to lift RBHS over the host Roadrunners.
After trailing Hinsdale South 6-2, the Bulldogs responded with 16 unanswered runs over two innings to cruise past the Hornets. Ranieri and Noel homered to spark the comeback.
“We started really slow against Hinsdale South,” Schultz said. “I think we were a bit flat after such a big win against Nazareth, but we hung in there and the offense got going.”
While the pitching hasn’t been spectacular, it’s been effective and interchangeable for RBHS. Dachota, Blood and Ranieri are both capable starting and relief pitchers depending on each game situation. And they obviously can hit, too.
“Our three pitchers complement each other so well,” Schultz said. “They all have different styles.
“Tori is primarily a curveball pitcher, while Nadia is a change of pace pitcher. Nadia just comes after hitters with good velocity. Nadia is a big strong lefty pitcher. If she finds more control, she will be very competitive.”
RBHS hosts three games this week against Oak Park and River Forest (April 3), Aurora Central Catholic (April 5) and Morton (April 6) at Veterans Park in North Riverside. All games start at 4:30 p.m.
“We’re excited about our start this season,” Schultz said. “Our offense has been great and the pitchers work well together. Defensively, we’re not perfect but I think we are seeing the ball well. I would say we are ahead on defense of where we were at this point of the season last year.”