By Marty Farmer
The Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team couldn't ask for a better first half of season. Through 13 games, the Bulldogs are bursting with confidence and hitting at will en route to 12-1 overall record and 4-1 mark in the Metro Suburban Conference.
RBHS has scored over 10 runs in a game seven times, including a season-best 20 runs in on three occasions.
"I feel like we have had a wonderful start to the season," coach Doug Schultz said. "We feel like we can compete at a high level. We have a bunch of fun players that have really gotten down to work and become better players. I'm looking forward to a great round robin against Lyons Township and Shepard this Saturday."
RBHS appeared for real right off the bat this spring with an eight-game winning streak to open the season. The Bulldogs' signature victory occurred in a 9-5 decision over perennial state power Oak Park and River Forest.
Last week, the Bulldogs went 5-1, highlighted by a 20-5 thrashing of Nazareth Academy on April 12 and a doubleheader sweep (20-4, 5-0) of York the following day.
Nadia Ranieri is hitting a robust .658 with 25 hits in a 38 at bats. Her on-base percentage is .714 with a .842 slugging percentage. She's also a front-end pitcher for the Bulldogs.
"Our strength this year is our power and knowledge," Ranieri said. "As a group, I think we are more mentally prepared than any other season. There is talent everywhere on our team."
Emily Noel (500 avg., 8 HR, 25 RBIs), Isabella Garcia (.390, 5 HR, 21 RBIs), Ashley Lynch (.341, 3 HR, 20 RBIs) and Abigail Favela (.447, 2 HR, 19 RBIs) are also having outstanding seasons.
"We work well together and we know how to pick each other up," Noel said. "If we keep working hard individually and as team with good chemistry, we can accomplish a lot this season."
For all of their prowess at the plate, the Bulldogs are winning with balance. The pitching and defense, coupled with better mental toughness, have contributed to the team's auspicious start.
"We are very strong on defense this year," Favela said. "Everyone is a leader on this steam. As long as well stay on the same page, we'll do great the rest of the season."
Schultz, in his sixth season as the head coach, guided the Bulldogs to a Class 4A regional title in 2017. Perhaps, this spring will turn out even more memorable.
RBHS takes on host LTHS and Shepard in a round-robin tourney Saturday. RBHS plays the Astros at noon, then the Lions at 2 p.m.