Ellary Hastings added to her memorable Senior Day for the Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team April 8 with a new experience.
Hastings delivered her first over-the-fence home run as the Bulldogs edged Richards 4-3 at Ehlert Park in Brookfield.
“Right before I hit that home run, the other team’s coach told the pitcher I couldn’t hit the ball. Many other memorable things, but that’s one thing that stuck in my mind,” Hastings said.
The Bulldogs (5-3) won their second straight while honoring seniors and four-year program members Paige Fudacz, Mia Gonzalez, Hastings, Luna Lloyd and Lianna Noel.
“I’ve been playing with these girls for a really long time and just being able to play with them in a different setting than travel [softball], it’s just like a second family,” Luna said. “I honestly couldn’t ask for a better team.”
“[I love] just the environment,” Fudacz said. “There’s a lot of leadership and I feel like there’s a lot of competition with all of us that we kind of make each other better.”
Noel is a third-year varsity player after playing with the junior varsity as a freshman. The other four seniors are in their second varsity seasons.
“Something that’s made me continue to play is the energy and support from my teammates,” Hastings said. “I feel like right away I was able to come to the team and feel supported by everyone. Everyone here wants to improve and we all work hard to make sure we can help the team.”
The seniors hope to continue the momentum and emotion generated by last year’s group, which won its IHSA Class 4A regional by beating Downers Grove South 7-1 at Veterans Park in North Riverside.
“As a varsity player, that’s something you don’t always get to experience,” Luna said of a regional title. “It was really just like a surreal moment.”
Even the 3-1 Marist Sectional semifinal loss to the host RedHawks, who went on to finish second in state, made a lasting impression on these seniors.
“Last year’s sectional game, even though it was kind of bittersweet, seeing the seniors leave, the team energy and chemistry was top notch and kind of a fiery way to start this season and want to do better,” Gonzalez said.
The Bulldogs return their three 2022 All-Metro Suburban Conference players in Zoe Levine, Emily Organ and Ellie Megall.
Newcomers, such as sophomore Ella Jurgens, already are contributing. Jurgens went 3 for 3 with four runs batted in April 6 as the Bulldogs beat Hinsdale South 11-1 after Jurgens’ three-run, game-ending homer in the bottom of the sixth.
Levine and Lloyd also homered and had two hits along with Noel and Organ. Freshman winning pitcher Abby Weinert threw a two-hitter with four strikeouts.