Coming into this season, Roncalli High School softball coach David Lauck believed his Rebels were pretty solid when it came to pitching and defense. But at the plate, he had some questions.
Through 16 games, consider almost all of those questions answered. The Rebels — ranked No. 1 in Class 4A — have scored eight or more runs 12 times, thanks in part to all nine starters batting .367 or higher. The Rebels (16-0) have been particularly effective at the plate in their past four games, outscoring the opposition 46-1.
“I certainly didn’t expect us to be hitting one through nine like we are,” Lauck said. “I think it’s the combination of the experience we have, the work the girls put in lifting weights before the season, and the fact that they’ve really bought into the philosophy of being patient, putting the ball in play and putting pressure on the other defense.”
North Carolina recruit Kendra Lynch’s play has been no surprise. After batting .473 during an all-state junior season, Lynch is hitting .533 with five home runs and 20 RBIs.
But several other Rebels have made huge strides at the plate. Emily Prather, who hit .404 a year ago, is up to .549 and has 22 RBIs — just two shy of last year’s total. Hope Golden (.412) has raised her average by more than 90 points and has 19 RBIs — six more than she had in 2012.
And sophomore Megan Choinacky, who had a solid freshman season (.348, seven RBIs), has exploded at the plate: a .508 average, along with four home runs and a team-high 33 RBIs.
“I think that Megan was nervous last year because she was a freshman,” Lynch said. “But over the summer she started playing on my travel team, and I saw how much harder she was working. It just shows how much she wants to work to make our team better.”
Lynch and Golden make up a strong 1-2 punch on the mound. While Lynch is clearly the ace, having thrown 621/3 innings and posting a 1.12 ERA during her 11-0 start, Golden is 5-0 with 1.25 ERA in 332/3 innings. Lauck has confidence in both pitchers.
“Hope has demonstrated in all three years as a starter what she can do, and I won’t hesitate putting her in during a key situation,” he said. “She’s not only an effective starter, but I can also bring her in to close out the final two or three innings, and we don’t miss beat.”
Two seasons ago, Lynch batted leadoff on a Roncalli team that won the Class 3A state title. Last year, the Rebels’ first in 4A, the season ended with a 3-1 loss in the semistate to eventual champ Plainfield.
“That’s definitely motivation for us,” Lynch said. “We know we didn’t play very well in that game. We really felt like it was ours to lose. We’ve made it at least to the semistate every year I’ve been there. We know we’re right there this year, too.”