Junior catcher and cleanup hitter Zoe Levine is among many strong bats for the Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team.
What big blow was her game-winning at-bat against Aurora Central Catholic on May 11?
How about a walk-off, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning – on four pitches.
“I don’t think very many [times that’s happened],” Levine said with a smile.
The ending was anticlimactic, but the result wasn’t. The Bulldogs won their Metro Suburban Conference Blue finale 4-3 after the Chargers took a 3-0 in the top of the first.
“We lost to this team last time, so it was really nice to beat them,” sophomore third baseman Ellie Megall said. “We struggled in the beginning with hitting and defensively the first inning, but we came back. Our defense was solid the rest of the game. Hitting was on and off all game but we really came back at the end.”
The game was a microcosm of the season for the Bulldogs (17-7, 7-3), who shared second in conference with Immaculate Conception Catholic Prep.
Leadoff hitter Lianna Noel and Emily Organ began the seventh with singles and Megall was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. Levine then walked to end the game.
The game had been tied 3-3 after RBHS scored in the first and twice in the third. After the first inning, freshman pitcher Trinity Stevenson allowed just two hits and finished with a four-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk.
“She’s had a good [outing] the last three, so I would say it’s getting better and better and better,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said. “The energy’s good. It seems like the girls are swinging the bats well. We didn’t have timely hitting, but we got good hitting. We got the job done.”
The Bulldogs beat all three conference opponents they lost to the first time — ACC, champion Bishop McNamara (8-2) and IC.
Noel (3 for 3) and Organ (2 for 3) opened the first with singles, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Megall’s sacrifice fly. Luna Lloyd opened the third with a single and scored on Ellary Hastings’ double. When Hastings was advancing to third on a wild pitch, the throw was wild and Hastings scored the tying run.
“We’re trying to adopt that mindset that we’re the best on the field and we can mow anybody down,” Levine said. “We were down by three and [Stevenson] just kept us in it until we came alive. We lost to them the first time. We can beat anybody.”
Especially as catcher, Levine sees the growth in Stevenson and fellow freshman pitcher Abby Weinert.
“[Stevenson] pitched a heck of a game,” Levine said. “From the beginning of the year, it’s insane how far they’ve come and how they have just really stepped up and taken on this role.”
Megall also provided great defense with five assists. After a leadoff ACC single in the sixth, Megall initiated a double play with second baseman Noel and first baseman Weinert.
“I don’t think it’s any question she’s my best third baseman in my 10 years here,” Schultz said.
RBHS is the No. 3 seed in the IHSA Class 4A Marist Sectional and the Bulldogs open play at home at 4:30 p.m. May 24 against No. 14 Eisenhower.
The regional final is at 11 a.m. on May 27 against No. 6 Willowbrook or No. 11 Lyons Township. The winner advances to the 4:30 p.m. sectional semifinal May 31.
“The biggest thing is we’re growing so much as a team together,” junior shortstop Organ said. “It’s not just one person. Up and down the lineup we’re all hitting together and putting good, quality contact on the ball.”