BOLINGBROOK – This spring, Bolingbrook’s softball team is looking to produce an outstanding encore.
After finishing 15-14 and advancing to the regional championship game for the first time in school history, the Raiders are looking for more, though it will be largely a new group doing so.
Defensive linchpins and senior leaders Dani Knaak and Nikki Wood have graduated and several new faces join the team, but head coach Jean Ryan-Moak believes her team can surpass last year’s success behind the newcomers.
“Losing Dani Knaak and Nikki Wood is a great loss in the outfield and at the plate,” Ryan-Moak said. “However, Olivia Simpson, Brie Smith and Adrianna Pantano are ready to fill their shoes.”
Simpson is one of five sophomores on the roster. (Jen Cave, Lindsay Chandler, Gianna Esposito and Kaeleigh Keating are the others.) Freshman Nicole Bond also is up with the varsity team. Pantano and Smith are the only seniors, though the Raiders won’t be lacking experience.
Junior Jen Jacobson was a key varsity player last spring, and fellow junior Megan Lotarski has been a varsity starter since her freshman year.
Esposito came up big last season with a two-run double that sent Bolingbrook to the regional championship game. Lotarski finished last season with a 2.05 ERA and a school-record 172 strikeouts in 147 innings pitched. She will be throwing to Bond this year.
“Nicole Bond has learned a lot from Megan and about her style in the few short weeks we’ve been practicing, and she also swings a nice bat,” Ryan-Moak said.
With just 10 players on the roster, avoiding injury will be one key to success. So too will be getting the newcomers adjusted to the varsity game.
“Improvements will come from all around, but especially in the outfield,” Ryan-Moak said. “They have grown already, so we will continue to see growth from them.”
The upside of having a small team is that each player knows her role, and all will have a chance to contribute this season.
“Our team’s biggest strength is that for the first time I have 10 girls that are all gamers. They know their role and the expectations put forth on them,” Ryan-Moak said. “They are a small group but a tight-knit group that, when they put that uniform on, they mean business.”
Coach: Jean Ryan-Moak
2013 record: 15-14
Gianna Esposito so.
Jen Jacobson jr.
Megan Lotarski jr. P