A seasoned varsity softball team at Notre Dame High School is looking toward a successful season by excelling at all phases of the game.
All the players, except for the one freshman, played on the team last year, Coach Bill McDonough explained. The five sophomores are solid contributors, he added, the two juniors are solid and the three seniors bring leadership.
“I really like what I see,” he said following the team’s third game of the season, a 6-3 loss to Lutheran South that brought the team’s record to 1-2.
The coach gave encouragement and his players cheered each other on, battling through to the last at-bat. “It’s a tough enough game with the added factor of mistakes that are part of the game. I try to be as level-headed as possible,” McDonough said, adding that the team joins with the junior varsity at practices in a family atmosphere.
Center fielder Megan Wolff said it’s important to “pick each other up after an error. You don’t want that to transfer from the field to the plate, for example. If somebody will strike out, the next batter will do her best to get on — we’re really good at that.”
McDonough praised Lutheran South pitcher Lauren Beier, a senior who kept Notre Dame from getting momentum. She struck out nine while giving up five hits and one walk in seven innings. “This a very good team, a very good pitcher, and we battled strongly against her,” he said.
Notre Dame’s pitcher, Carlee Gilham, a junior, also received praise from the coach. She walked only one and worked out of a few jams. Miscues led to some of Lutheran South’s runs, and McDonough plans to use those as learning experiences, letting his players know that those plays are the difference between winning and losing. He expects to see Lutheran South again in district playoffs.
Notre Dame had some highlights on defense, too. Wolff made a shoestring catch in the first inning. Two times in the second inning strong throws to catcher Samantha Foppe nabbed runners at the plate. On offense, Rachel Schultes showed her speed by beating out a bunt, stealing second base and scooting to third on a wild pitch.
McDonough appreciates playing tough teams at the start of the season so his team is ready once conference play gets underway. Notre Dame was to open its conference competition Aug. 30 against St. Francis Borgia.
Wolff, who had a hit and walk in the Lutheran South game, said she has fun off and on the field with her teammates. Softball is “competitive, fast and exciting,” she said. “Whenever we’re down a few runs and get a few key hits, that’s always a rush of adrenaline. It’s so fun with these girls especially.”
Allison Kaiser, a sophomore who plays shortstop, had two hits against Lutheran South. The team is coming together with a lot to build on, she said. “It all starts in practice. We all talk to each other, get to know each other on a personal basis.”
Softball is competitive but also teaches her that “I can still succeed when I fail” by learning, Kaiser said.
Her winning formula in life as in sports involves keeping God first, looking to her teammates to give her a boost and keeping a positive attitude.
Wolf noted that the team prays before the game, which “starts the game off on a good note.” Praying that everyone stays safe and healthy is most important, she added.