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Elaine Heflin adjusts to being Downers Grove North's lone No. 1 pitcher

Senior assumed ace role after Dale Ryndak was injured early in the season

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 9:00 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:49 a.m. CST
Caption
(Bill Ackerman)
Bill Ackerman – backerman@shawmedia.com Downers Grove North starting pitcher Elaine Heflin gives a between-inning pep talk to her team Thursday at McCollum Park during the Trojans' rain-shortened game, a 3-3 tie, with Downers Grove South.

DOWNERS GROVE – At this point, Elaine Heflin has her postgame routine down to a science.

“Resting, stretching, heating and icing, working my hardest out there and then working out on the side,” the Downers Grove North’s senior pitcher said.

Pregame, postgame or during the game, everything seems to be working for Heflin. The University of Illinois-Chicago recruit has a perfect game, three no-hitters and two one-hitters in a season in which she wasn’t supposed to get this much work.

Heflin and Dale Ryndak were slated to split pitching duties this season, but when Ryndak was lost for the season with an ACL injury, Heflin assumed the role of No. 1 pitcher. The icing, heating, resting and stretching has helped her deal with the usual aches that come along with pitching, but at first, the transition was tough.

“At first it was really hard, especially mentally, that I was the only one pitching,” Heflin said. “But after all the games, physically and mentally I know I can do it and I have my team behind me.”

Great command and a deep arsenal of pitches are part of what makes her so successful.

“She’s so strong and she’s in such good shape. She’s intimidating,” North coach Mark Magro said. “She’s got great stuff, overpowering stuff, and she’s very smart between the ears, too. She’s been phenomenal.”

Even when pitching in less than ideal conditions such as Thursday’s rain-soaked crosstown clash against Downers Grove South, she commands the respect of opposing teams and coaches.

“She is tremendous. She’s as good as we have seen and will see all year,” Downers South coach Ron Havelka said. “She’s big time. I can see how she got all her no-hitters and all her strikeouts. She’s tough.”

The weather this spring led to several canceled games for North and in turn has led to a condensed schedule now that the weather has finally turned. In the face of that, Heflin has remained dominant, which comes as a little bit of a surprise, even to her.

“I am a little surprised, especially because we’ve had so many games, but I just go out there and try my hardest,” she said.

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