Batavia freshman pitcher Rachael Lovestrand has been sidelined by a concussion recently but it's been a challenging season for Lovestrand from the get-go.
Lovestrand underwent months of physical therapy for a rotator cuff injury leading up to the season but said she still has experienced substantial soreness throughout the spring.
At one time, Lovestrand expected to come back 100 percent, but eventually realized that wasn't going to be the case, at least this season. Considering the discomfort – especially noticeable the days after she pitches – she's been relieved that's she has been able to handle a hefty workload as the Bulldogs' top pitcher.
"I didn't think I could come back and almost pitch like I used to," Lovestrand said. "I'm still not doing as good as I hoped I would but I'm trying my best."
Lovestrand often plays second base during travel season with the Kane County XPlosion and said she actually prefers that, presenting a potentially logical long-term option if her rotator cuff injury does not fully heal.
"I enjoy second base more but I feel like I pitch so much I'd miss it if I actually stop pitching if it comes to that," Lovestrand said. "I hope I don't have to stop but if it comes to it I'll be fine with it because I can still play the sport."
As for Lovestrand's concussion – the result of a non-softball-related accident at school, she said – Lovestrand has missed about a week and a half, but she said Saturday she is feeling better and hopes to return soon. Pitchers Nicole Peercy and Alyssa Klemm have taken on an increased workload in Lovestrand's absence.
"It was kind of hard not to play but I like watching [the team] play," Lovestrand said. "I was happy for the other kids that got an opportunity to play. It wasn't that bad but I'm really happy to get into it again."
Knights looking to 'D' up
Kaneland's mission leading up to regionals is clear – make progress on defense.
The Knights have a relatively productive offense and a quality pitcher in junior Angie Morrow but entered the week fighting to stay above .500 (13-11 overall) largely because of defensive shortcomings, according to coach Brian Willis.
"We've given up probably 10 unearned runs the last two days," Willis said on Saturday, referring to a loss Friday at Yorkville and a doubleheader split Saturday against Naperville North. "Naperville North hit the ball but they hit it right at us and we just booted it, and then they came up with a clutch hit."
The Knights have limited practice time this week with a busy slate of games, including conference matchups against Rochelle, Morris and DeKalb.
"We need to really work on our defense," Willis said. "Every time we lose, it seems to be something defensive we can look back at."
With prom festivities – and the weeks of anticipation leading up to them – finally in the rearview mirror, St. Charles East coach Kelly Horan breathed a sigh of relief.
Now Horan has less concern about where her players' focus lies as the postseason fast approaches.
"It was good to get this post-prom game out of the way to be really honest with you," Horan said after a win at Geneva last week. "Done with it. Done with it. Everybody is back in school all day. We are good to go."
IN THE GROOVE
Mickey Goetz, St. Charles North, Sr., IF
What she did: Goetz unloaded on Geneva for a six-RBI afternoon on three hits Friday as the North Stars beat the Vikings for the second time in a three-day span.
Sarah Willman, Rosary, Fr., P
What she did: Willman had four hits and three RBIs in a lopsided win last week against IMSA and struck out 14 batters in a complete-game pitching win against Guerin as the Royals prevailed, 6-1.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
It's never too late to tinker with the batting order.
Kaneland, for example, moved Lanie Callaghan up to No. 2 in the order and Lexi Roach down to the No. 5 hole in an effort to jump-start Roach, a Youngstown State-bound senior. Freshman Morgan Weber has settled into the leadoff spot for the Knights.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Those are scheduled to be released today by the IHSA, with pairings to follow on Wednesday. Class 4A powers St. Charles East and St. Charles North figure to be among the top seeds in the Bartlett Sectional.
COACH SLY SAYS
Looking like we're going to go to the wire with St. Charles East and St. Charles North for the UEC RIver, which sounds pretty perfect.
All signs point toward a May 20 matchup between the teams at North determining the conference championship, just the way you'd have drawn it up headed into the season.
Yeah, both teams have bigger things in mind for the postseason, but nothing wrong whatsoever with collecting some local bragging rights along the way.