ROMEOVILLE – After coaching Plainfield North’s softball team to a second-place finish in last season’s Class 4A state finals, Kelly Ash got the opportunity to coach another district school in Plainfield South.
Ash knew that even though the Cougars graduated 10 players from last year’s team, they still had plenty of talent returning, and that certainly seems to be the case as South is off to a good start this season.
The Cougars moved to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in the Southwest Prairie Conference after rolling to a 17-5 victory over Romeoville in five innings. South scored six runs in the first inning and four more in the second to grab a decisive 10-0 lead. After the Spartans cut the lead in half in the fourth, the Cougars responded with seven runs in the fifth.
“At North last year, we had a really good team, and it was hard to leave there,” Ash said. “But I got an offer that I couldn’t refuse at Plainfield South, and I knew what kind of the team they had last year under a great coach, so I knew what I was getting. We’re really young since I’ve only got three seniors, but this team is aggressive at the plate. We have a lot of speed and are aggressive on the base paths, and we can swing it, that’s the nice surprise. And defensively, we’re right there with everybody.
“We’ve played five games in the [Rosemont] dome, and I think that really helped to be able to play there and to be able to get those games in. Meghan Dunning is at third and Ashley Corley is at short, and they’re captains of the team. They’re solid kids who are good defensively, and they’re good with with the bat as well.”
South took the momentum with six runs in its first trip to the plate and four more runs in the second inning. Kendall Vogt (3 for 4, three RBIs) put South up for good with a two-run single, Mia DeTolve (3 for 4, two RBIs) and Meggan Maza (2 for 4, two RBIs) each drove in a run, and Emily Bickett tripled in two more.
In the third inning, Meghan Dunning (3 for 4, four RBIs) got a two-run homer, and Brianna Murray (2 for 3, two RBIs) singled in two more runs for South, which had 20 hits.
“A lot of people have doubted us just because we lost all of our seniors,” Dunning said. “But we’re definitely showing that we’re a better team than expected, since we definitely have a lot of talent. Coach has high expectations because he’s been through this process of winning in conference.”
The Spartans finally scored in the third when Jena Almodovar singled in two runs and then in the fourth, Larissa Ortiz (3 for 3) singled in a run and Morgan Ziebarth brought home another.
But the Cougars scored seven runs before their first out in the fifth inning. Dunning tripled in two runners, while Ashley Corley (3 for 4), Vogt, DeTolve and Maza also had RBIs. Addison Brandl pitched four innings to get the win.
“Our team worked hard in the offseason,” Corley said. “I feel like this season will be one of the best at our school. I like how well we all work together. There’s no drama, and we all work real well, and it’s so easy to talk to the other girls and to pick them up.”