CiCi Wilson set the tone. Now, it’s about sustaining it.
Wilson, a St. Charles East junior, started her season at the plate in a monumental way.
On April 5 against South Elgin, she slugged a grand slam and drove in six runs total.
The following day against West Aurora, Wilson proved clutch with a solo home run in the sixth inning of a 3-2 victory.
“I think it was way better than last year because I was off to a rough start [at that time],” Wilson said. “I think that it means good things can come and it’s going to be a great season for me.”
Last season, groundouts appeared to be an issue early in the season.
“I had a hard time timing up the ball,” Wilson said. “I was behind and it kind of brought my confidence down and it came into a spiral of a bad slump.”
Wilson is experiencing no such slump this time around.
In a home triangular against Oak Park-River Forest and Plainfield North on April 16 – two East wins by a combined score of 25-2 – Wilson went 5-for-6 with three RBIs, three runs scored and a walk.
The work Wilson put in at softball camps and exposures during the summer evidently is paying off.
“Just building on my confidence over the summer. I did really well,” Wilson said. “Maybe just working on timing and if I knew I was off [with my] timing, I would step off the plate so I could get to the inside pitches well and see the ball better.
“I was told [by the camp evaluators] that my swing is very good. I got nominated [for a] golden glove from the University of Iowa camp. … Very good feedback all-around.”
Ava Goettel a pitching star for St. Charles North
Ava Goettel isn’t one to look at numbers.
“I have no idea,” Goettel said. “I kind of just go out there and play and have fun, which sounds so superficial, but I don’t like to worry myself about the numbers because then I get too much in my head about it.”
The results have been spectacular all season.
In a 12-1 victory over Wheaton Warrenville South on April 14, Goettel struck out 12. In a doubleheader against Naperville Central – a series split in which both teams combined for 39 runs – Goettel struck out five in a 20-0 victory.
“To be honest, I take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time,” Goettel said. “That’s always what I’ve been taught. I know I have my team behind me. I have my best friend[s] standing right next to me, so I take it one thing at a time and try to not look too far ahead because I will overwhelm myself.”
Lauren Knief enjoying Burlington Central curtain call
Lauren Knief knows it’ll be the curtain call on her softball career soon enough.
“I mean, I am a senior so this is my last year, but without me playing in college, it’s going to hit hard,” the Burlington Central senior said. “Especially because I’ve been playing with my best friends since the start.”
With Knief at her customary third base, Savannah L’Huillier in left field and Rylie DuVal at short, the trio owns the left side of the diamond for the Rockets.
“We always have the celebrations for the outs and the innings and even just normal conversations during the game,” Knief said. “With Savannah, I’ve been playing travel ball with her. I ended my last travel season with her and started my first travel season with her.
“With Rylie, we used to play travel together, but we had basketball together and have both been playing together for so long. It feels weird saying that this is my last sports season with the people I’ve been playing with since the start.”
Knief and the Rockets (4-2) seem to be making the best of it.
Before a recent power surge – a 24-1 victory over Elgin, 12-10 victory over Bartlett and 18-4 victory over Larkin – the Rockets had played just three games.
Getting into a rhythm, understandably, took some time.
Knief, for her part, shined in the win against Elgin with a 3-for-4 output with five RBIs.
“We have a nice mix of experience and newer players on the team this year,” Knief said. “All with solid travel experience. I really think it was just a matter of getting some more games in. Hitting is contagious, and the energy we create when we start to get those hits just drives us even more. [The coaching staff has] also been very supportive.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle