CICERO – There’s something different about Karina Madera when she swings a softball bat.
Madera is far from the numerous slap hitters in softball. Morton’s sophomore takes big cuts and has the strength to produce big power for high school softball.
She uses her big frame to really lay into an incoming pitch if she likes what she sees and has her background in baseball to thank for that.
“I think my baseball swing helped me get my power more than anything,” Madera said. “My swing is baseball, everything is baseball. I grew up with all my guys and I barely started playing softball before my freshman or eighth-grade year.”
Madera clubbed two home runs, including her first high school grand slam, in a doubleheader split Saturday against Reavis. After enjoying a solid freshman year on varsity, Madera is being asked to be a more important part of the Morton lineup this season. Saturday’s power display is just what first-year coach Marcey Wilus is hoping to see.
“That’s what we’re looking for from our fourth hitter is to step up to the plate and hit how she’s supposed to hit,” Wilus said. “That’s exactly what we want to see. Her producing runs and moving people around the bases as well.”
Madera brings some versatility to the field, too. She plays at first and third bases and even catcher. She is splitting catching duties with senior Jenna Boyajian. Boyajian is returning from a torn ACL suffered in the middle of last season. When Boyajian went down, Madera stepped in for a team chasing a conference title and postseason success. The Mustangs ended up with a regional title.
“Last year, when Jenna tore her ACL I had to catch for her as a freshman,” Madera said. “I was so nervous, but I love catching.”
Madera played in-house and travel baseball growing up. She credits her dad for getting her into the sport and helping her develop.
Once she switched to softball just before her freshman year, the transition wasn’t as hard as might be expected. She said she loved her time playing baseball and had to adjust to some of the different nuances of softball but has taken to the sport.
“The ball moves differently, a baseball comes down, the softball comes up,” Madera said. “It’s a different game. It’s faster, quicker. It’s crazy, but I love it.”
Saturday's doubleheader Reavis 8, Morton 5 (8 innings) Morton 13, Reavis 3 (5 innings) • Karina Madera 3-for-4, grand slam, 5 RBIs in game 2