NAPERVILLE – On an afternoon more fitting of winter sports than spring sports, it seemed appropriate that it was a hockey player that saved the day for Neuqua Valley’s softball team Monday.
In the season opener for the Wildcats, Brooke Meyer came through with a three-run double in the bottom of the sixth to break a 7-7 tie and help Neuqua overcome a five-run deficit in a 10-7 non-conference win over Benet.
“(Benet pitcher Allyson Staats) got me down 1-2 and she threw it low, so I just tried to do the best I could to put it in play, and it worked,” Meyer said. “I thought it was gone, but it was a little high, so the wind took it, but it still worked to get the win.”
Early on, Benet (2-1) looked like a team that had been out on the field a couple of times in the young season. The Redwings scored a run in the first and then Maeve McGuire unloaded a grand slam in the second off of Neuqua starter Jena Boudreau to open a quick 5-0 lead.
“It was the first few innings, so we still had plenty of time to come back,” Meyer said. “We got together, regrouped and started fresh, short-term memory as a player.”
In the bottom of the third, Staats recorded two quick outs, but Neuqua responded with five straight hits to cut the lead to 5-3. Boudreau and Leigh Nebendahl had RBI singles and Meyer added an RBI double.
Neuqua came all the way back in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a bases-loaded walk drawn by Kate Lelek followed by a bases-clearing double from Chelsea Mueller, giving the Wildcats a 7-5 lead.
But McGuire still had a bat in her hands, and she made the most of it. She belted a two-run homer to dead center to tie the game 7-7 in the top of the sixth. She finished with two homers, a double and six RBIs in the loss.
“There aren’t too many hitters that are going to do much better than Maeve,” Benet coach Jerry Schilf said. “Two home runs in these conditions, there aren’t a whole lot better than her. But that wasn’t enough. We hit the ball hard, but unfortunately, we only scored runs when Maeve was up.”
That was the only hiccup Boudreau suffered after the second inning, although things did get interesting in the top of the seventh. Marissa Panko drew a two-out walk, and if Ali Michalik could have reached base following her, McGuire would have been up as the tying run. Michalik, however, flew out to center, cementing a win for Neuqua coach Melissa Wilson in her debut at Wildcats coach.
“I’m so excited,” Wilson said. “I could not be more proud of our girls. They played one heck of a game. They worked their butts off and wanted to win. They showed me and the other coaches that they wanted to win it.”