Tag Archives: Beth Smith

Willis joins many new softball faces

Photo: Sophomore pitcher Delani Vest will be counted on for a repeat performance. File Photo
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Despite finishing 27-9 in 2009, the Kaneland High School girls softball squad faces quite a number of challenges.

There’s recovering from the heartbreaking extra-inning regional championship loss to Burlington Central, the third straight year of getting eliminated by the Rockets.

There’s the acclimation of seven new faces to the varsity ranks, with just six upperclassmen on the team.

There’s also the item of new and eager head coach Brian Willis, who also served time as an assistant after former coach Dennis Hansen was suspended.

Willis says not much has changed in his coaching style from being a lower-level coach in various Kaneland sports.

“Right now, it’s all excitement and anticipation,” Willis said. “We’re trying to get the girls ready. I look at this as no different than the last eight years, except I talk to reporters now.”

Willis is ready for the season-ending loss to be put in the rearview mirror.

“From that regional championship loss, there’s only two girls starting (Wednesday) that started that game. In a sense, that anxiety is there for girls like Delani (Vest) because she was the pitcher, but we have several freshmen and sophomores that weren’t around,” Willis said.

Notably, Vest returns after posting a 17-6 record as a freshman inside the pitcher’s circle, which itself is being moved back.

“That’s going to make a difference, and we’ll get to see how Delani will react to that. With her leadership and competitiveness, she knows what it takes to get back to that championship game,” Willis said.

The jury is still out on Delani’s sister and battery mate Rilee, who is battling nagging injuries.

Junior catcher Andrea Dimmig-Potts returns as someone who saw her share of playing time and was capable of doing damage with one giant swing.

Seniors on the squad are outfielder Jordan Hester, and infielders Brittany Davis and Kristen Stralka.

“We’re moving forward. These returning girls are excited to get a fair shot, and they feel like it’s their time,” Willis said.

Joining Vest as fellow hurlers look to be sophomore Alexis Villarreal and sophomore Katy Dudzinski, who saw spot starts in the varsity ranks a year ago, and sophomore Brittney Miller.

“It’s a new coaching staff (Willis, Christine Bouffard and Joe Spittzeri), and we evaluated everyone equally at the start. Delani put herself in the top spot, and some of these other girls aren’t too far behind,” Willis said.

Sophomore McKinzie Mangers will serve as catcher in case the other two possibilities are beset by injuries.

“We’ll be tested early behind the plate,” Willis said.

The infield will look younger on the left side and senior-laden on the right. Allyson O’Herron, a freshman, looks to contribute at shortstop.

“(O’Herron) is very solid defensively and will make some freshman mistakes, but she’s also solid with the bat,” Willis said.

Fellow freshman Taylor Velazquez will get a look at third base.

Davis will be looked at around second base to serve as a cornerstone of the infield. Spots remain in a fight for outfield.

In terms of players who will see more sizable time this season and could surprise onlookers is Davis.

“She’s going to get out there every day and put up solid numbers and be a good player,” Willis said.

On the new arrivals, Willis pointed to O’Herron having a productive career at short for the next four years.

Other Lady Knights looking to contribute to the squad are sophomore infielder Sarah Kitz, sophomore outfielder Samantha Hansen and junior infielder Beth Smith.

“If we finish in the middle of the conference and continue to get better every week and regionals come around and we’re ready to roll, that’ll make me happy,” Willis said.

The regular season kicked off yesterday against BC, and WSC play begins on Tuesday, April 6, at Glenbard South. The regular season finale is Saturday, May 22, at Rosary.

Lady Knights (14-5) bring the bats

Lady Knights softball saw contributions from both ends this past week.

Pitching and hitting proved key in a week that had Kaneland take four out of five contests and improve to 14-5 with a 5-2 record in the Western Sun Conference, tied with Batavia.

Sycamore got the best of the host Lady Knights last Wednesday afternoon by a 2-0 final.

Delani Vest was tagged with her second loss of the season (6-2) despite seven strikeouts. The Lady Spartans plated one run in the top of the first and one in the third.

Jessica Lubic went 2-for-4 with a double and triple, and Andrea Potts also added a triple.

On the lower-class end, Kaneland sophomore softball came away with a win at Sycamore by a 10-3 clip.

Beth Smith improved to 6-0, and Nikky Rymarz went 3-for-3 with a home run.

On Thursday, the Lady Knights handed the host Rochelle Lady Hubs a 5-0 loss.

Vest took care of the purple-clad lineup with eight strikeouts and allowed just two hits.

Kaneland’s scoring output consisted of a single run in the second and four in the seventh.

Brianna Hurst led the way at the plate with a 3-for-4 evening along with a double. Potts went 2-for-4 with two driven in and Rilee Vest went 2-for-2 with an RBI.

On Saturday, the Lady Knights provided some hurt to host Woodstock by sweeping a doubleheader, 3-0 and 3-1.

In game one, Vest earned the win and fanned 12 batters, scattering just two hits.

The offense was led by Jessica Lubic (2-for-3, triple, RBI) and Huml (3-for-3).

Game two had the Lady Knights break open a 1-1 tie with two runs in the top of the sixth.

Potts went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Huml struck out 10 on the day.

On Tuesday, Kaneland took the aluminum to the visiting Batavia Bulldogs 9-0, thanks to homers from Potts and Rilee Vest. Vest’s grand slam was the third hit by Kaneland since 2004.

KHS visits Glenbard South on Thursday, April 30, and hosts Geneva on Tuesday, May 5.

Softball makes life difficult for opponents

KHS 3-1 in WSC skirmishes
by Mike Slodki
Lady Knights softball had itself a productive week, and in the process, elevated its record to a nice 10-4.

The Lady Knights, who are also 3-1 in Western Sun Conference play, vanquished the host Maine West Warriors in a Saturday doubleheader, 3-0 and 5-0. Preceding that was a 6-1 win over the host Yorkville Foxes on Thursday. Kaneland began the week as road warriors with an 11-1, five-inning win over host Wheaton Academy on Wednesday, April 15.

In the first game of the doubleheader in Des Plaines, hurler Delani Vest (6-1) scattered just four hits and struck out five.

Sara Rose (2-for-3), Vest (2-for-4) and Jessica Lubic (2-for-3) smacked doubles, while Rose and Mangers parked pitches over the fence for home runs.

The Lady Knights scored single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings.

Senior Mallory Huml (3-3) put on a clinic in game two, allowing just two hits and fanning nine. Kaneland put up a three-spot in the third inning while scoring two additional runs in the seventh.

Andrea Potts went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Tara Groen went 2-for-3.

Against Yorkville, Kaneland scored three runs in the top of the first thanks to an RBIs double to dead-center by Rose, Potts reaching on an error that scored Rose and a run-scoring single by Lubic.

Yorkville threatened in the bottom of the first by loading the bases but couldn’t score.

Kaneland scored three more in the third. Rose doubled and later came home on an error by the shortstop. Rilee Vest then drove home a run with a grounder, and Jordan Herra reached on another error that scored Lubic, who had previously singled.

“We’ve done a pretty good job this last week of hitting the ball,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said after the output on Thursday. “We get some people hot up and down the order, and our pitching has been good.”

Vest, only a freshman and counted on for big innings, has come through thus far.

“My screwball was really working today. I struck out a lot of girls with that. It’s different every game depending on how I warm up. Whatever works in the first inning, I try to stick with that,” said Vest, who K’d eight Lady Foxes.

Against Wheaton Academy, Huml struck out seven batters and walked just one while giving up just three hits. Kaneland scored in every inning, including five times in the first and three in the second.

Potts had a huge day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a double and four driven in. Huml also went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Lower class action this past week saw the sophomores sweep a doubleheader at Maine West by 11-10 and 10-5 finals.

In game one, Beth Smith improved to 5-0 with a nine-strikeout day. Katy Dudzinski went 3-for-4 with a homer. The Lady Knights scored six times in the top of the seventh to secure the win.

Game two had Dudzinski pitch four innings for the win (4-2). Brooke Thompson went 2-for-3 with a triple and Lindsay Jurcenko go 2-for-4.

The freshmen swept the doubleheader vs. Maine West at Kaneland by scores of 14-3 (five innings) and 14-4 (six innings).

Sarah McGinnis and Brittney Miller earned wins for the Lady Knights.

Ahead for Kaneland varsity is a road venture to Rochelle on Thursday, April 23, and a trip to Woodstock on Saturday, April 25.

Photo: Kaneland pitcher Delani Vest crashes into her sister, catcher Rilee Vest, as they both went after a fly ball in the sixth inning against DeKalb on April 14. Kaneland won the home game 9-4. Photo by John DiDonna