JOLIET – After their game with Romeoville on Friday, Joliet Catholic Academy softball players Alyssa Callans and Meghan Harrison talked about starting a new season.
And who could blame the Angels pitcher and catcher about their hopes for the rest of the campaign after the way their squad played in its home contest against the Spartans.
With Callans tossing a four-hit shutout and driving in three runs to join Reilly Jo Swanson, Paige Callans and Jen Krizka with two hits apiece at the top of the lineup, JCA used a 12-hit attack to help it grab a quick lead in its 6-0 nonconference victory.
On a beautiful spring afternoon, which should be the first of many to come in the upcoming stretch, the Angels (6-2) relied on fine pitching, good play in the field and solid hitting up and down the lineup on a day where eight of their players collected hits.
“We’d been struggling a little bit with our hitting lately, but if felt good today since everybody was hitting from the first inning,” Alyssa Callans said. “And I’m lucky to have such good fielding behind me, and that feels good as a pitcher since you can have them put the ball on the ground or get a popup and you know they’ll make the play.
“In our last game we played, it felt like we starting a whole new season. So we just need to keep hitting the ball and playing great defense, and we’ll go far. I’m excited.”
In the opening inning, the Angels scored half of their runs and collected four hits to quickly take control of the contest. An inning later, they scored the rest of their runs and added three more hits and then they got at least one hit in each of the final four frames.
Swanson (2 for 4) led off the bottom of the first with a single and scored on a double by Alyssa Callans (2 for 4). She came home on a single by Krizka (2 for 4), who later tallied on a two-out single by Harrison, who nearly drove in another run but the Spartans (4-6) made a nice play to throw a runner out at the plate.
“After our long break, it kind of feels like we’re starting the season over again,” Harrison said. “We kind of know that we have to bring our ‘A’ game in every game and whether we’re winning 1-0 or 6-0, that we’re hitting the ball hard and are doing our best.
“Once someone hits for us, it’s contagious, so we just need that one spark and usually that comes from the top of our lineup. And we’ve been taking a lot of ground balls and fly balls with our time off, so it’s kind of like second nature to our infielders and outfielders.”
In the second, JCA was back at it as Molly Kovas led off with a walk and Swanson doubled before Alyssa Callans singled in both runners. After moving up on the throw to the plate, the winning pitcher came home on a single by Krizka.
Romeoville threatened in the third when Annamariah Cajigas smacked a one-out shot to right but Gillian Mantia came up with a diving grab. Brittany Osborne (2 for 4) followed with a double but was left stranded there.
Alyssa Callans struck out three while only walking one and hitting one batter. The Spartans weren’t able to advance a runner to third base until Asia Robinette reached there with two out in the seventh inning.
“Alyssa pitched real well,” JCA coach Dave Douglas said. “We played well on Monday when we lost 2-1 to Bishop Mac in 10 innings, and we played a good Romeoville team today. It’s just been the grind of trying to get back into the groove after missing 11 or 12 days.
“I’m real happy with the girls’ energy. They’re making the ground ball plays and getting the outs that we’re supposed to get, and that makes everybody a lot more relaxed and makes a much easier game for us. We’re doing a lot of things that we like.”
After getting off to the rough start, Osborne (eight strikeouts) settled down and only allowed two baserunners to reach scoring position in the final four innings.
Romeoville started out the week with a big conference victory at Minooka.
Coach Christina Douglas hopes her squad has more efforts like that as the year progresses.
“The win at Minooka was a first for our program to beat a quality team like that,” Christina Douglas said. “We’ve been lacking in offense. We made an adjustment from yesterday to today by putting the ball in play, and now we have to put the ball in play and make a hard out. I think once we get that and fine-tune a couple of things here and there, we’ll start rolling.”