Murray, Royals catch on against ACC

AURORA – Until last week, senior Lauren Murray darted in from center field at the end of the Rosary softball team’s defensive innings.

For the past three games, she has broken her crouch from behind home plate and shuffled a few steps toward the dugout.

Witness the easier points of transitioning to catcher.

Murray, of St. Charles, figures to shift back soon enough, but until then, she has provided stability wherever she stands.

In Wednesday’s 8-2 victory against visiting Aurora Central Catholic, she doubled twice, drove in three runs and was at the receiving end of eight Elayne Young strikeouts.

“She’s an all-around athlete,” Young said. “I think she’s good at any position, and she can go in and play anywhere, anytime. I think she did really well today.”

Young (4-4) wasn’t too shabby herself in handling the Royals’ Suburban Christian Conference foe from just down Edgelawn Drive.

ACC managed singles from Mary Wileman, Gabi Alfaro and Cori Dahl while scoring both runs with the help of Rosary errors.

Starting on the inside of the plate before working back outside, Young retired the final 10 Chargers after Dahl’s two-out single in the fourth.

“I don’t think they were ready for those outside pitches,” Murray said. “That’s pretty much what got them every time.”

Rosary (5-4, 5-11 SCC) grew increasingly comfortable against ACC pitcher Paige Miller, who allowed 11 hits, and had five strikeouts and one walk.

First baseman Samantha Phelps went 3 for 4 with an RBI, while Madison McDowell (two RBIs), Danyal VanGundy and Sarah Willman joined Murray with two-hit games.

Murray’s RBI double capped the scoring in the Royals’ four-run second, which featured two of the Chargers’ five errors.

ACC coach Tom Babyar lamented the rally as the difference.

“And then you can play the game differently, you know,” Babyar said. “It was just ugly. It’s kind of embarrassing. But it is what it is, and we have to learn from it and go on. What do you do? You’ve got to try to improve.”

That last part matches Murray’s approach as she fills in for starting catcher Jessica Wade, recovering from a recent illness and a ball she took to the chin during practice.

Staying focused at the plate helps Murray remain alert behind it.

She worked Wednesday to keep her hands high, allowing her to stay through the ball and drive it.

On a chilly afternoon in which hot chocolate and coffee sold at the concession stand, the sting of solid contact proved well worth it.

“Yeah, definitely,” Murray said. “Preferable to nothing at all.”

Stepping in for coach John Kazmierczak, who was out of town attending a family funeral, Royals assistant Rob Henderson called Young’s pitches until late in the game.

That’s when Murray, her mind and fingers nimble, took her turn.

“She knew what she was doing, and I think she’s learned, so if she has to go in again, she’ll know,” Young said.

Also listed as a shortstop, Murray isn’t fighting anything. She’s simply staying centered.