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Early .500 record pleases coach in return to Westmont softball

WESTMONT — A level .500 record usually isn’t a reason to celebrate.

But for a Westmont softball team coming off a tough 2012 season and with a new coach at the helm, a 5-5 record a month into the season is an encouraging sign.

“Here’s the way I look at it. It would be wonderful to have an awesome record,” said coach Jason Bolden, who returned to the Westmont bench this spring after stepping down after the 2007 season. “I’d love to have a 10-0 record, but we’re competing right now and we’re beating teams that last year we lost to.

“Seneca has been the top dog in our conference and we beat them 7-5 (April 8). Dwight took it to us last year and we beat them 9-2 (Friday).”

Kristen Skala earned the pitching win against Dwight, yielding just three hits and striking out eight. Skala, Megan Seratt, Claire Conneely, Amanda Anderson and Brittany Eiermann each had an RBI in the win as the Sentinels leveled their conference record at 2-2 prior to games against Sandwich Monday and Tuesday.

Skala and fellow sophomore Skyler Poel have formed a solid battery, with Skala picking up some speed on her pitches and Poel producing behind as well as at the plate. Second pitcher Susie Sternard, shortstop Maria Prete and corner infielder Seratt have been key pieces, but the Sentinels have had across-the-board production.

“The best thing is we can be down three runs and our team is still in it,” Bolden said. “They still believe they can get the job done.”

With Skala and Sternard in the circle, the Sentinels expect to be in every game — so far only two losses have gotten out of hand. Bolden is still hoping to see continued development on defense and inside the batter’s box. But from what he’s seen so far, he’s confident his team will get there sooner rather than later.

“We want to solidify our defense because that’s how you win games, and we still need a little work offensively, but we’re coming around,” the coach said. “The thing I’m still trying to teach them is that every pitch is important and everyone is counting on you. If you don’t do your job you’re going to hear about it, but I believe they’re taking that to heart and understanding it.”

Westmont will play almost exclusively an Interstate Eight Conference schedule the rest of the way, including key I-8 North series against Sandwich and continuing with Coal City (April 29 and 30) and Lisle (May 6 and 7).

“There are some difficult games coming up, but I think we’re up for the challenge,” Bolden said. “They understand that we’re all in this together, and if we take care of the little things the big things will take care of themselves.”

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