McHenry softball team rebounds, routs Cary-Gove

McHENRY – Over the course of five lesson-producing losses this spring, McHenry's softball team waited patiently for its offense to come around.

For much of the season, hits had come in spurts, leaving the Warriors wanting for more. That all changed Wednesday when once the hits started against Cary-Grove, the constant stream of offense just didn't stop.

McHenry pounded out 13 hits – including four by Cary Mattson – giving Kristin Koepke more than enough run support in an 11-2 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory over the Trojans.

"It was a complete team effort from the first inning to the seventh inning,"McHenry coach John DiFrancesca said. "They were focused and there was a level of intensity today that was different."

McHenry (3-5 overall, 1-1 FVC Valley) rebounded from a 12-0 loss to Prairie Ridge that brought the realization that the Warriors weren't as bad as the lopsided loss indicated. Almost instantly, DiFrancesca saw his team's mental sharpness change.

It rolled right into Wednesday's victory.

"We finally came together and figured out what we need to work on to get better as a team," said senior Megan O'Donnell, who drove in two runs in the victory. "It's definitely been a big improvement."

The Warriors piled up six runs in the first three innings, using an O'Donnell home run and an Ashley Clingingsmith two-run single to build the comfortable lead. O'Donnell added an RBI single that pushed the lead to 6-0.

Koepke took it from there.

The Warriors' junior ace worked six innings and scattered five hits. She didn't allow a run until the fifth inning when Amy Clemment delivered a RBI single for the Trojans (5-3, 1-1). But just as quickly, McHenry responded with two more runs, one of which came on Amanda Manssen's RBI triple.

Between McHenry's run production and Koepke's mastery on the mound, the Trojans had little response.

"Koepke did a nice job pitching and keeping us off balance," C-G coach Tammy Olson said. "She commanded the mound today and she had a nice game."

As solid as Koepke was, however, she finally got the offensive support that DiFrancesca had been waiting to materialize. When it did, it allowed the Warriors to breathe a sigh of relief, hoping it's a sign of things to come.

McHenry tacked on three runs in the sixth inning, stringing together four hits, including triples by Hannah Crowley and Mattson to go along with RBI singles by Maggie Wiegman and Haley Kornfield.

C-G loaded the bases in the seventh before Koepke got Grace Pilz to ground out to end a win that erased any memories of the Prairie Ridge loss.

"I wouldn't necessarily call it anger (after the loss), but I'd call it a positive focus," DiFrancesca said. "They know what they're capable of. They just haven't peaked yet."