Tim O’Brien’s softball notebook

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With the playoffs just a week away, Seneca coach Dan Stecken is seeing his team play as well as it has all season.

Through Saturday’s doubleheader sweep at Somonauk, the Irish have a 19-6 record.

“I’m excited because the girls are finally getting some consistent at-bats and seeing a lot of pitches,” Stecken said. “They’re playing really well.”

Like most teams, the Irish have benefited from the good weather, making up for lost time from earlier this season. Senior first baseman Nicole Pihl continues to be an offensive force for Seneca, going 7-for-9 with eight runs and five RBI as the Irish beat Somonauk 16-4 and 13-1.

Junior third baseman Sarah Radtke and sophomore shortstop Lexi Trompeter also have been keys, both on offense and defense, for Stecken’s squad.

“We’re playing good defensively, and we’re getting consistency from the lineup,” Stecken said. “The big thing is we’ve been getting some good contributions from the bottom of the lineup.”

Seneca will wrap up the regular season this week with six games, with the Interstate Eight small division conference title still on the line. The Irish open the playoffs May 15 in the Class 2A Beecher Regional in a semifinal against conference opponent Wilmington.

“If we do our part and win out, we can take the conference,” Stecken said. “We’re trying to win conference and make it further than we did last year in the (playoffs) in the Sweet Sixteen.”

Seneca reaching the sectional final last season.

Dwight gets defensive

Dwight coach Erik Black isn’t calling out one player to step up. With the playoffs looming, Black is challenging all his players to improve their play.

“Offensively, I’ve been pretty happy, and we’ve gotten good pitching,” Black said. “Everyone has got to step up to advance. We need everyone to take it up a level.”

Jamie Stanton has been Dwight’s offensive leader, hitting .490 with three homers, 21 RBI and 11 runs. The Trojans open the 2A playoffs May 15 at the Class 2A Watseka Regional in a semifinal against Clifton Central.

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