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Softball preview: Pitching powers Downers North's regional title quest

As good as the pitching is, North could stand to push a few more runs across the plate.

DOWNERS GROVE — Pitching won't be a concern for the Trojans, who have Elaine Heflin and Dale Ryndak returning to the circle.

Heflin averaged nearly two strikeouts per inning last season, and the pair combined for an ERA under one.

As good as the pitching is, North could stand to push a few more runs across the plate. Last season, the Trojans won six games by two runs or fewer, and five of their seven losses came by the same margin, including a 2-1, 13-inning loss to West Chicago in a regional championship game.

"When you think about it, it really wasn't surprising we lost that game because so many of our games were one-run or two-run games," coach Mark Magro said. "If we score some runs, we're going to be dangerous. If you can hit, you're going to be in the lineup."

Ryndak should help in that department as well. She batted .386 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs and 25 runs scored last spring. Carolyn Nojiri and Brittany Nagy, a four-year varsity and 2012 all-conference player, return to the infield and should bolster the lineup. Beyond that, it's up for grabs.

"We have 17 girls this year, so there's definitely competition to play every practice," Magro said. "You have to earn your spot."

The Trojans have had plenty of regular season success lately, including four consecutive West Suburban Silver titles, and with what they have coming back they could once again be the favorite with Glenbard West, Oak Park-River Forest, Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township also among the contenders. But they are hoping to flesh out the resume with more than just regular-season success.

"We definitely want to get away from losing in our regional," Magro said. "Our girls are tired of it. I told the girls to remember how bad it felt to work so hard and to be ranked so high and then lose in the regional final. Not to dwell on it, but to remember and make sure it doesn't happen again. We can beat anybody, but anybody can beat us, too.

"Teams are going to get up to play us. The girls know it's going to be tough, but we're excited for the season."

Meet the Trojans

Mark Magro

2012 record: 30-7 (11-1 West Suburban Silver)

Top players:

Elaine Heflin sr. P/1B

Brittany Nagy sr. 3B

Carolyn Nojiri sr. 2B

Dale Ryndak jr. P/1B

First game: 4:30 p.m. Friday at Reavis

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