Softball: Danielle Kappel’s walk-off homer lifts Richards over MaristRichards girls mob Danielle Kapple at home plate after her game winning Home Run against Marist at Richards, Friday, March 16th, 2012 in Oak Lawn, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 16, 2012 8:54PM
Richards’ Danielle Kappel not only hit the first walk-off home run of her career Friday in a 1-0 victory over visiting Marist, she got the ball back in record time.
Somebody cared enough to chase it down for her.
“Yeah, my father,” Kappel said, laughing. “I’ve never had (a walk-off hit) before. It’s a really good feeling.”
Northwestern-bound ace Brianna LeBeau blanked the RedHawks on just two hits, striking out six while walking none.
Kappel’s home run came on a 1-and-1 pitch with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Earlier in the game she skied a ball to left, where it was hauled in by Marist’s Ashlynn Kokaska.
This one, a low line drive, kept going.
“It was right down the middle. A great pitch [to hit],” Kappel said. “I knew it as soon as I hit it.”
It was the fourth hit of the game for Richards against Marist pitcher Kris Klutcharch, who previously had stranded four Bulldogs baserunners. Klutcharch is moving into the No. 1 pitching slot after the graduation of Teagan Walsh and Stephanie Gierman.
“I just tried a screwball [against Kappel], but it didn’t move,” Klutcharch said. “I felt pretty confident because I worked hard all offseason. I was ready to play.”
Klutcharch kept her cool during each of the first four innings, which saw Richards put runners in scoring position. She herself made two fine stabs on sharp bouncers back to the circle in the first inning.
LeBeau, meanwhile, had three different Marist baserunners reach second. The closest the RedHawks came to scoring, though, was in the sixth, when with a runner on second and one out, second baseman Kristina Apato and first baseman Breanna Kaminski went back-to-back with defensive gems.
“I feel very confident with the defense I have behind me,” LeBeau said. “I just always try to focus on my pitching, and I know if I make a mistake, there are other people right there to pick me up.”