The Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team (28-6 in 2019) begins its 2021 campaign against Timothy Christian on April 14. Coach Doug Schultz already likes what he sees with his squad, who have a tough conference and non-conference schedules, including a matchup with nationally ranked Marist. 

“We look like a typical RB softball team, which in my eight years of coaching means a strong offensive team that needs to focus on mental approach,” he said. “We’re excited, especially after losing our year last year, about getting back on the field and playing this year.”

The Bulldogs will return junior pitcher/third baseman Hanna Organ, senior Catcher/first baseman Isabella Garcia and senior pitcher/outfielder Emily Bloom, who were all starters as underclassmen two years ago. 

Junior outfielder Danika Apostolovich, along with freshman infielders Emily Organ and Zoe Levine and freshman outfielder Julia Madera, will be the new faces for the Bulldogs who will also be key contributors.

“Our returning players will bring that varsity experience and we’re excited about that,” Schultz said. “Apostolovich will bring a strong bat to the lineup and all three of our freshman are going to be exciting to watch.”

While last season’s aspirations of going downstate had to be put on hold, Schultz and the Bulldogs are ready to pick up right where they left off to have a historic season.

“We feel a lot of relief that we will have a chance to play,” he said. “Losing last season was devastating for the program, but the announcement that there would be a season this year along with a state tournament was uplifting. We have a competitive team that can compete for regionals and sectionals, and it’s going to be a fun year.”

Naz looks to rebound from rough 2019

In 2017, the Nazareth Academy softball team placed third in the state tournament. But two years later with an inexperienced squad, the Roadrunners slipped to 12-24.

However, in her second year as head coach, Vicki Sobol feels a reversal of fortunes is a good possibility this spring.

“When we were able to have our first practice last month, our team naturally erupted into applause and cheers because we were excited to finally be back together,” she said. “The girls were so ready for last season; they couldn’t have worked harder. So now, we’re coming into this season with a sense of unfinished business.”

The Roadrunners will have a very experienced roster this spring, including nine seniors who have been at the varsity level all four years. Three are committed to continue their careers on the collegiate level: Olivia Mardirosian (Gulf Coast State College), Emily Monahan (Loras College) and Toni Rodriguez (Lewis University).

Other players expected to see significant time this season are seniors Brianne Chrzanowski, Sam Glowacki, Allyson Layne, Gianna Lopez, Amanda Myers and Jamie Suppa; juniors Jazmyn Casas, Melisa Hadzic and Allison Mangan; and sophomore Ava Calderon.

“Having so many returners is a great strength for us,” Sobol said. “Our seniors have made a huge impact on our program.”

Nazareth feels that its experience in 2019 with a subpar record has prepared it for a bounce-back year this spring. The Roadrunners hope that becomes a reality, because they play in the difficult East Suburban Catholic Conference, where they finished 2-14 two years ago. 

“The fact of the matter is that we underperformed for a number of reasons, one being that we had a really young group of girls back then,” said Sobol. “Going into play this year, we aim to be contenders for the ESCC title.”

Nazareth opens its season with back-to-back home games, staring with Mother McAuley on April 14 and Wheaton-St. Francis the following day.