After blowing a late lead to rival Trinity in a loss at the Priory on April 30, the Fenwick High School softball team gained measures of redemption and revenge Saturday afternoon at Triton College in River Grove.
“I knew right from the start that our team came ready to play,” Fenwick coach Mike Marrese said. “Our warm ups and the spirit throughout the game were terrific. The kids were having a good time. That’s the main thing for us, which is to come ready and have a good time.”
Fenwick junior Alyssa Stramaglia starred on the mound and at the plate in the Friars’ 6-2 win over the Blazers. As an All-Girls Catholic Athletic Conference player last season, she hit .415 with a .500 on-base percentage and .638 slugging percentage.
“I thought we improved a lot,” Stramaglia said after the Trinity game. “We had a lot of motivation in the dugout. On the mound, I just wanted to get that first-pitch strike and then just go from there.”
Stramaglia scattered six hits, allowed two runs and struck out nine in a complete-game victory. She also went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored against Trinity.
“Alyssa mixed up her pitches brilliantly,” Marrese said. “Our defense was magnificent. We made every single play.”
Trinity coach Bryan Hoffman offered similar sentiments about Stramaglia’s performance.
“Alyssa pitched a great game,” Hoffman said. “You’ve got to tip your cap to Alyssa for pitching a terrific. I thought it was a well-played game on both sides.”
Stramaglia also set the tone offensively, belting a three-run home run off Trinity starting pitcher Ileana Fierro that gave the Friars a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning. After four innings from Fierro, Sammy Nelson finished the game for Trinity.
“The pitch was right down the middle and I wanted it,” Stramaglia said about her homer. “It gave us a tremendous boost.”
Stramaglia held Trinity scoreless until the bottom of sixth when Fierro scored on a two-out RBI double by Nelson.
Fenwick squashed any hopes of a Blazers comeback with three RBI hits of its own in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Kayley Sherwood (3-for-4) recorded an RBI single, followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Ciara Herbert (2-for-3) and Tess LoGuidice (2-for-4). Eastern Michigan recruit Rachel Martinez (2-for-3) also contributed for Fenwick, which had 13 hits for the game.
“I told the kids we’ve got to play for a run,” Marrese said about the Friars’ seventh inning. “We’ve got to do whatever we got to do to regain that three-run cushion. Getting three runs was awesome.”
The Blazers tacked on a consolation run in the bottom of the seventh on a RBI double by Bella Parravicini. Afterwards, Hoffman expressed concern about his team’s offense.
“We need to be more disciplined at the plate,” he said. “We tend to put pressure on ourselves and try to do too much, rather than taking the pitch that’s given to us. If we’re not going to see good pitches and not going to swing at strikes, we’re going to have trouble creating offense.”
Hoffman also didn’t hesitate to stress improved defense as a key to Trinity’s fortunes going forward.
“Definitely the key for us is better defense,” Hoffman said. “In general, we’ve made too many errors. When we play solid defense, we’re in every game.”
As for Fenwick (8-14, 4-9 GCAC Red), Marrese wants to see more consistency as the state tournament draw closer.
In their other game last week, the Friars lost 5-3 to Mother McAuley. Cassandra Lee had a home run, two hits and three RBIs and Nora O’Connor finished 2-for-3 for Fenwick.
“We just need to duplicate what we did against Trinity,” Marrese said. “Come ready, warm up good, and be into the game all seven innings, not just out on the field but also on the bench. Most importantly, if we make adjustments at the plate, we’ll be fine.
“Today we showed what we’re capable of doing,” he added. “For us, this was the start of a new season. No one has given up and we’ve still got a lot to play for this season.”
Fenwick and Trinity split the season series. In the Blazers’ aforementioned 11-8 victory the teams combined for 29 hits. Trailing 7-4 in the top of the sixth, Trinity rallied with six runs in the inning en route to the win.
Juliana Morini led the way with three hits and three RBIs for the Blazers. Teammates Heather Shortall, Nicole Romano (three hits each) and Nelson (2 RBIs) also played well. Jessica Hoffman pitched four innings with five strikeouts, while Nelson put in three innings of work for the Blazers.
Sherwood hit a grand slam, Ava Vaccaro went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Lee was 2-for-5 with an RBI for Fenwick. Stramaglia struck out 13 and went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Friars.
Fenwick hits the road this week with four straight games at St. Ignatius, Benet, Guerin and Morton. The Friars return home to the Priory against Montini on Friday, May 11 (4:30 p.m.).
Trinity hosts De La Salle on Thursday, May 10 at Triton College (4:30 p.m.), The Blazers will also take part in the Knight Invite hosted by Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst over the weekend.