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Pankau produces web gems for Dukes

ELMHURST – Switching defensive positions can require a feeling out process and adjustment time before the player gets confident and settled at the new spot.

After playing third base in recent years, York junior Taylor Pankau has hit the ground running at second base this spring. She’s even developed a habit of making big plays with her glove late in games.

On April 25, she made a diving stop on a hard ground ball to get the last out and save a 6-4 win over Lyons Township. She made a diving catch for the last out in a 2-1 win over Oak Park-River Forest the day before.

“I moved her from the left side of the field over to second this year and she’s done nothing, but make plays for us,” York coach Drew McGuire said. “Defensively, she’s been rock solid for us.”

Pankau, on her first year with the varsity team, has played her part in the Dukes’ 5-1 start in the West Suburban Silver. She is tied for third on the team with 10 RBIs despite carrying a .239 average after Monday’s win over Glenbard West.

“Taylor has been doing a great job at the plate as well as in the field,” McGuire said. “She’s really coming up clutch when we need it.”

Pankau’s move from the hot corner initially came with reservations. She was used to being ready for sharp line drives to come her way and never had played second base before. While she misses the satisfaction of snagging a stinging ball down the line, the move to second base has proven fruitful.

“At first it was kind of hard because you don’t have the natural instinct to go which way, but now it’s kind of clicked in,” Pankau said.

She earned some varsity experience late last season during the playoffs, but this season is her first full year at varsity. She is finding her niche with the team and is seeing the Dukes progress in recent games.

“I think we finally clicked and we’re working really good together this year,” Pankau said.

The Dukes lost the first four games of the season and had a 5-8 record before the wins over OPRF and LT kicked off a 5-1 stretch that included four conference games. The lone blemish was a 5-0 loss to Downers Grove North on Friday that included a perfect game by Trojan starter Elaine Heflin. Two wins over Willowbrook on Saturday and a 12-11 shootout win over Glenbard West on Monday got things rolling again.

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