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Softball: Hail, Caesar! St. Francis senior slugs four home runs in a game

Spartans off to an 11-1-1 start to the season

St. Francis' senior Caroline Caesar hit four home runs in a game against St. Edward this past week.
St. Francis' senior Caroline Caesar hit four home runs in a game against St. Edward this past week.

Caroline Caesar aspires to one day be a high school math teacher.

She put up some positively eye-popping numbers last week.

Caesar, St. Francis’ senior catcher, slugged four home runs – tying an IHSA single-game record previously set by eight other girls – in the Spartans’ win over St. Edward.

It all started, innocently, with a solo homer her first time up.

“I believe I was the first batter up in the inning,” Caesar said. “I was upset that my mom missed it.”

Mom didn’t miss out on the rest of Caesar’s awesome power display. She hit a solo homer again the next time up, then belted a grand slam her third time. She put a cherry on the sundae of a sweet afternoon with a two-run homer her last at-bat.

“It’s funny, when she went up the fourth time, I told her, ‘If I were them, I would walk you,’” St. Francis coach Ralph Remus said. “Second pitch, she hit over the fence.

“First homer, I thought that’s great. Second homer, it’s like holy cow, that’s special. Third, I’m thinking c’mon. Fourth homer, I would have walked her.”

The only comparable power display Remus could conjure was Caesar’s freshman year, when Caesar, Carlee Clark and Shelby Winkelman hit back-to-back-to-back homers. Coincidentally, it also came at St. Edward.

It’s the latest hitting exploits for Caesar, a Hope College recruit.

The third-year varsity starter is hitting a whopping .605 with five homers, five doubles, a triple, 21 RBIs and 19 runs scored for 11-1-1 St. Francis.

“She sees the ball really well, she rarely strikes out, and she has a very smooth swing,” Remus said. “She is very familiar with pitches that she can handle. She doesn’t waste her swings on bad pitches.”

Caesar’s dad played baseball when he was younger, and she, too, started when she was young. By fifth grade, she was playing travel ball.

The power seemed to come naturally.

Her sophomore year, Caesar recalls hitting a tying or go-ahead homer in a playoff game against Montini.

“I’ve always just seemed to hit it farther,” Caesar said. “Some girls are contact hitters; I hit for more power. It’s just been a natural thing, to hit it as hard as I can.”

Not quite as natural is a defensive switch two years ago.

Caesar, who actually also pitched when she was younger, was moved from first base to catcher as a sophomore. Lefty catchers such as Caesar are few and far between, but she took to it. In short order, Remus was entrusting Caesar with calling pitches.

“It took a little bit of getting used to, but I think I have some advantages,” Caesar said. “I don’t have to turn around on bunts. I can throw down to first easily. It’s different, but it’s a good different.”

Remus won’t argue.

“She proved us correct, having her back there and calling pitches,” Remus said. “She is a student of the game. She loves to play, and she works hard. The job would be too easy if every kid was like that.”

The Spartans so far are making things looking easy.

Their only loss and the tie was during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach. Over a six-game stretch, St. Francis outscored opponents 79-1. The Spartans’ first four batters – Bridget Rath, Kristina Sherwin, Clark and Caesar – are all off to terrific starts.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Caesar said. “I think we have like 11 returning players. Most of us are a bunch of juniors and seniors that have played together for three or four years. We feel that connection.”

Around the horn

St. Charles East had a busy week last week, going 2-3. The Saints beat Downers Grove South, 5-3, and Naperville Central, 11-0, then on April 13 lost three tough games to Huntley, Pontiac and Ottawa – the latter a team that features Kentucky recruit Sloan Gayan on the mound.

“All of the teams on Saturday provided top-notch competition, which will help us as the season progresses,” Saints coach Jarod Gutesha said.

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