ELGIN – The Jacobs softball team knows junior Alyssa Lach will provide strong defense at third base and a big bat in the No. 3 spot in the order.
Lach did all that Thursday at Larkin in the Golden Eagles’ season opener, hitting a pair of home runs, driving in four runs and coming up with a diving stop to prevent two Royals runs as Jacobs won 10-3 in a nonconference softball game. The game was scheduled at Jacobs, but the Eagles’ field was not playable so the game was played at Larkin.
Another junior, pitcher Kelsey Peters, was a lesser known quantity coming into the season, but was impressive in her varsity debut, throwing four innings and allowing three hits, one walk and no runs.
“I definitely think I had a lot of pressure on me because [Katie Kirker and McKayla Lein] were really good [last season],” said Peters, who struck out four. “But I’m glad I get to pitch for varsity. I was throwing really good outside pitches they were getting called out on. I have a lot of movement to my ball.”
Jacobs is coming off a sectional championship season, but Kirker graduated and plays at Judson University, and Lein, a sophomore last season, did not come out for the team.
“If Kelsey can throw like that, and our offense can be aggressive the way we were today, we’ll be in a lot of games we play,” Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer said. “She put the ball over the plate and made our defense work. That’s what we need from her, to just be consistent.”
Freshman Emily Borg pitched one inning and Lach threw the last two innings for the Eagles.
Lach ripped a 2-0 fastball to right field for a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the fourth, giving Jacobs a 6-0 lead. Larkin (0-1) threatened to make it closer in the top of the fifth with the bases loaded when Lach dived to her glove side for Alex Buhrow’s hard shot and got up in time to tag Sam Wahl going to third.
“Alyssa Lach played lights out,” Royals coach Anne Vogt said. “The home runs, that play at third saved them runs there. They have some big players and did what they needed to do.”
Larkin added a run in the sixth to make it 6-2, but Lach again found a 2-0 pitch of her liking in the sixth inning and hit it over the center-field fence for another two-run shot.
“The first one was just a fastball outside and high and I tried to take it the other way and put it in play hard,” said Lach, who committed to NCAA Division I Butler this winter. “The second one was a high fastball and I knew I was up in the count, so I thought she’d give me something pretty good. It’s important that we keep getting runs each inning. The more we keep attacking, the better off we’ll put ourselves later in games.”
Bauer just smiled when asked about Lach, a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection last year.
“She’s here to hit. She’s not here to take walks or look at pitches,” Bauer said. “She’s here to swing. That’s her M.O. She delivered some big hits.”
Courtney Cotugno and Kelsey Cummings each drove in two runs for the Eagles, and freshman Sarah Murray was 3 for 4 with three runs scored.