Softball: Zion-Benton wins Lakes tournamentLake Villa-04/14/12, Sat./Lakes High School
#33 Cassidy Schaar, of Lakes with the hit vs. Richmond Saturday.
| Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 14, 2012 8:41PM
Zion-Benton has spent the last three seasons chasing Lake Zurich across the finish line in the North Suburban Lake.
Now that most of the great players from those two schools have graduated, Zion-Benton is reloading for another great run of title-contending softball seasons.
But now, instead of chasing the Bears, the Zee-Bees find themselves chasing the Warren Blue Devils — or Blue bombers if you will.
Warren is 4-0 in the division, has scored 41 runs in those games, and has scored a total of 54 runs in its last four contests.
For some softball teams, 54 runs is a month’s worth of production. Warren did that last week.
The teams will meet on Monday afternoon in Gurnee, with Z-B (2-1 in the division) needing to win to keep from losing contact with the Devils.
Zion’s edges are threefold:
■ Momentum garnered from beating Lakes 15-4, Grayslake North 2-1 and Richmond-Burton 7-2 on Saturday to win the Lakes tournament.
■ Senior pitcher Nika May, who likely will be the best all-around player on the field Monday.
■ The talented players in the Z-B lineup might be too young to be intimidated by Warren’s run-scoring machine.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
“I think we can hit with them. I feel confident pitching right now, and our hitting is coming around,” said May who just signed to play next year at North Carolina A&T. “Our defense has also improved a lot from the beginning of the season because our freshmen are getting more comfortable in the field. We’re probably going to have to make some plays.”
On Saturday, the Bees (10-3) made a lot of plays, with freshmen such as Amara Leith, Claire Crane, Carson Manning, Janie Torola backup pitcher Kyra Lenzi (beat Richmond), and backstop Meg Crosswhite all deserving special mention.
Others who contributed to the tourney title included senior Leianna Moragne, junior first baseman Brianna Urban and sophomore outfielder Cindy Garces.
Of course, it all starts with May, the team’s ace and best hitter. Based on her (lack of) height and weight, she probably hits the ball farther than any player in the state.
“She’s my No. 1 in everything right now — hitting ... pitching. She did an excellent job today,” said veteran Z-B coach Rick Rymer.
As for Monday’s meeting at Warren, Rymer summed it up this way: “I’m hoping this weekend gave some kids some confidence. We know for sure we have to win on Monday, and we can’t let ourselves get sniped by Mundelein when we go over there Tuesday either. We’ve done that before, where we play a nice game and then somebody picks us off.
“We’re playing close games. We’ve played three two-run games in the last fives. Either our hitting is there or it isn’t. We need it to be there this week.”
Grayslake North’s 1-2 effort dropped the team to 7-6-1.
Molly Jones, Grayslake’s coach, talked about her club after the tough loss to Zion in which ace Kristina Gandy pitched well.
“We need to improve defensively. One of our goals has to be to stop giving teams extra bases,” Jones said. “I think we need to communicate better, and that will help prevent some of those mistakes.
“Instead of throwing the ball around, sometimes it’s better to eat it and let them have the base rather than give them an extra one.”
North’s 7-6 loss to Lakes came just days after North beat the Eagles 10-9 in a nonconference contest.