LA GRANGE PARK – A quick look at the Nazareth softball roster will reveal that seven underclassmen are on the team, which makes the squad appear inexperienced.
However, four of those underclassmen were regular contributors as freshmen and the Roadrunners graduated just three seniors a year ago.
“We have a mix,” Naz coach Kristen Stojetz said. “I’ve got seven seniors on the team and I’ve got four [senior] starters on a given day, but even my younger kids are still returners so the expectations are high for us and for them individually. So both collectively and individually we have high expectations, but we got to work through some things still.”
Nazareth was 4-4 entering Tuesday’s East Suburban Catholic Conference game against Marist. The Roadrunners are hoping to compete in the very tough ESCC after going 7-11 in the league last year.
“What I ask the girls every game, every practice is to get better, and I feel like we’ve seen signs of that,” Stojetz said. “We just need to be more consistent with it. We played really well on [April 1] despite a loss [2-0 against Downers Grove North], but we just want to be building.
“We want to compete in conference.”
Standing out even among the four returning sophomores is Karah Ritacco, a catcher who was an all-conference player in the talent-laden ESCC a year ago. Fellow sophomores Mia Davis, Cat Klostermann and Colleen Cavanaugh also are regulars on the team.
They are contrasted by the more experienced group of starting seniors Lindsay Zasadzinski, Katelyn Cahill, Danielle Bartodziej and Colleen McGivney.
The Roadrunners endured a marathon 15-10 victory against Riverside Brookfield on Thursday. Naz trailed 7-2 after four innings, but scored 13 runs in the next two innings. The Bulldogs even had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh before the game was called due to darkness.
“We’ll take a win,” Stojetz said. “We hit the ball [Thursday] and even when we were down we didn’t give up. We came back. We didn’t hang our heads and even our outs early on were hard-hit balls. I felt we came out swinging, but obviously our pitching was not on.”