by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARKâ€”Kaneland softballâ€™s season opener 15 days ago featured an ending that was quite thrilling.
On Monday against the Interstate Eight Conference representative Sandwich Lady Indians, the game was once again thrilling, but only for the KHS offense in an 8-0 win.
In Glen Ellyn on Tuesday, KHS (2-1, 0-1 Western Sun Conference) suffered its first setback with a 5-1 Western Sun conference loss.
Delani Vest (2-1), adjusting well to the mound relocation and to the Sandwich lineup, pitched five innings of no-hit ball for the Lady Knights and struck out eight, and Alexis Villarreal sealed the deal with two relief innings.
â€œSome of my pitches are slower, but theyâ€™ve become more effective,â€ Vest said. â€œItâ€™s turning a negative into a postive.â€
Vest also scored twice and had an RBI single. Centerfielder Jordan Hester had an RBI triple, and Villarreal also scored twice.
KHS first threatened in the bottom of the second with runners at first and third but failed to convert.
Finally, in the third inning, Villarreal walked and stole second. Vest walked, and both runners executed a double steal.
Second baseman Brittany Davis hit an RBI single and took second on the throw, and Taylor Velazquez reached an an error by the shortstop, allowing Davis to come home.
In the fourth inning, the Lady Knights put up another three spot in the fourth inning. With runners at first and third, Vest hit a two-run double, and Davis hit a fielderâ€™s choice that left her safe and allowed Vest to score.
Hester drove home the seventh run in the fifth inning with a triple and came home on a wild pitch.
Coach Brian Willis can make some conjectures about his team, though itâ€™s still early in the season.
â€œFor this early in the year, Iâ€™m pleased with our execution,â€ Willis said. â€œItâ€™s a long season, and what mistakes weâ€™re making now, hopefully weâ€™ll learn from them.â€
Against the Raiders, Vest pitched four innings in the loss. Davis had two hits while Hester had a double.
Freshmen action during the week had Kaneland beating Sandwich 12-1 on Monday thanks to Elissa Eckertâ€™s seven strikeout outing and a triple by Sarah Grams.
The Lady Knights host Geneva on Thursday, April 8, at 4:30 p.m. and travel to Marengo for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 10.
Photo: Pitcher Delani Vest dishes from her repertoire in a Saturday contest against Oswego that was postponed by rain. KHS-Oswego is set to be made up on Monday, April 19. The sophomore fanned eight vs. Sandwich. Photo by Ben Draper