Softball: Kiley Rusen, Riverside-Brookfield sweep Lyons
Updated: March 31, 2012 6:25PM
Kiley Rusen set Riverside-Brookfield’s new school record with her 156th career hit on Wednesday.
Based on Saturday’s doubleheader against Lyons, the senior is hardly resting on that accomplishment.
Rusen was 6-for-6 at the plate with five runs scored and three RBIs over the two games as the Bulldogs earned a 4-0, 7-2 doubleheader sweep of the visiting Lions.
Moved to the middle of the order earlier this year to potentially provide more RBI opportunities for her, the Valdosta State (Ga.)-bound Rusen was back at the top of the lineup Saturday and on top of her game.
“I’ve been there (hitting leadoff) since freshman year, and I have good teammates around me to drive me in,” said Rusen, who was 3-for-3 in each game to up her batting average near the .700 mark. “So that gives me confidence.”
Emily Hastings was one of those clutch run producers behind Rusen, going 4-for-7 on the day with four RBI (three in Game 2).
“The main thing was just finding the right mix in the lineup,” R-B coach John Vermillion said. “Even in our two losses this year we had more hits but didn’t have the timely hitting to get them in. So I went back to last year’s lineup and put Kiley in the leadoff spot. And it worked out.”
Co-captain Becky Mantel made a great running catch in center field to rob LT slugger Skye Riddle of extra bases in the first inning of the nightcap. Then with the Bulldogs (5-2) up just 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Mantel highlighted her team’s string of five straight hits after two outs with a two-RBI triple that broke the game open.
“I think we stayed positive throughout the whole game and were able to come through with the hits when we needed them, even with two outs ,” Mantel said. “We just came alive with our bats and did really well.”
No. 9 hitter Tierney Duffy’s single had begun the two-out surge, followed by a Rusen RBI double for a 4-2 lead. A Kelly Ely single then set up Mantel’s triple, and Hastings added an RBI double.
In Game 1, the pitching of Kylie O’Connell took the spotlight. She scattered six hits (with no walks and two strikeouts) en route to her second shutout of 2012.
“I was working on more off speed pitches, getting [hitters] off balance,” O’Connell said. “And our defense is flawless. I have a lot of confidence in them to make the plays that need to be made.”
O’Connell’s freshman sister Katie was the winning pitcher in Game 2, limiting the damage of the Lions’ strong nine-hit attack that was led by a 3-for-3 game by Nicole Magets and two-hit performances from Ashley Koziol, Leyla Aiyash and Lauren Huebner.
Riddle was 2-for-3 in the opener for the Lions (0-2) in Game 1.
The Bulldogs’ revamped lineup aided their rebound from a 2-0 loss to DeLa Salle on Friday. The sweep Saturday now prepares them for two games in the next week against powerful conference rival Glenbard South.
“We’re going to need this confidence going in to play Glenbard South,” Rusen said. “But it’s really helped us see how the lineup works for us and that our bats can work.”
“I think this gives us a lot more confidence to keep going,” Mantel said. “Keep pushing and striving for the wins, do our best and work as a team.”