The “Dodger Way” was a phrase used to describe that organization’s winning style of baseball.
In Fox Valley area softball, there is “The Bartlett Way.”
It’s really not a lot different than the approach many teams want to take, but the Hawks under coach Jim Wolfsmith have annually executed their plan to a higher level.
“The whole philosophy is play good defense and get good pitching because that’s what gets you downstate,” Wolfsmith said. “We know that. We’ve been there.”
It goes beyond the defensive side.
“Very seldom do teams just get downstate because they can hit the ball and score a lot of runs,” Wolfsmith said. “So you’ve got to be able to play small ball: steal a base here, squeak out a base here, force the other team to make a mistake, capitalize on it.
“Because to get down there, you’re going to face some good pitchers. You can’t just rely on being able to bash seven runs every game, you know, just hitting home runs.”
Second in the state in Class 4A last year, Bartlett has forced teams into mistakes and avoided them once again, applying its approach this spring with a team that won 10 of 11 starting with two easy victories April 20 at the Wendy’s Classic in Ohio.
Bartlett’s run to the state title game last year seemed to start with the Wendy’s Classic, and they’re hoping for a repeat effort.
“It’s like a team bonding thing,” pitcher Jessica Kirby said about the annual out-of-state trip.
The Hawks (18-6) came out of that Ohio trip to win the Rolling Meadows tournament for the second straight year.
“After Ohio every year, we do a little better,” shortstop Kayla Haberstich said. “I think last year we started off good and then got a lot better. I think this year we started off decent and we’re getting better as the season goes on.”
The defense and pitching part of the formula have been there all year. The Hawks have allowed less than an unearned run per game (0.913), with four pitchers touting similar ERAs: Amy Johnson 2.00, Holly Pagan 2.28, Kirby 2.21 and Alyssa Nowak 2.33.
Pagan has gradually taken over the workhorse role, posting a 9-3 record with almost twice as many innings (73-38) as Kirby.
Everything the Hawks do is aimed at helping their pitchers.
“We like to help our pitchers a lot and let them know they can throw strikes and our defense will be behind them and that we’ll also hit and give them insurance runs in case anything does happen,” Haberstich said.
Haberstich, a junior who is still uncommitted for college, has been the key component in an offense that has become more effective as the games get played.
She had hit six home runs as of Monday — two more than last year when she helped lead Bartlett downstate. Heading into the week, she was hitting .372, with 14 of her 25 hits for extra bases and a slugging percentage of .861. More impressively, she had a team-high 41 RBI, 25 more than the second-highest total (16 by Alex Morales).
“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball better and hitting it more solid,” Haberstich said. “Last year I wasn’t getting all of the ball. This year the home runs have just come.”
With Rachel Odoski batting .465, Pagan .380, and four other Hawks starters at .333 or higher, the offense obviously has come up to the level of their defense and pitching.
The Hawks will need all phases of their game working together considering their narrow one-game lead in the loss column in the Upstate Eight Valley. The assault from Neuqua Valley, Lake Park, South Elgin and Waubonsie Valley is likely to last the rest of the regular season.
“I said before the season it was going to be one of the toughest conferences in the state and it’s working out that way,” Wolfsmith said. “It’s going to help prepare us for postseason.”
Burning it up
South Elgin catcher Alyssa Buddle maintained her torrid pace with the bat through 18 games, hitting .592 (29-of-49) with four home runs, three triples, seven doubles and 25 RBI. Her slugging percentage was an astounding 1.102. Buddle had also thrown out 12-of-21 runners trying to steal and owned a .988 field percentage. The Storm as a team had tailed off somewhat with the bats, but only slightly. Paige Allen was hitting .407, Victoria Watt .386 and Cassidy Westlund .378.
After 13 games the Storm had eight batters over .300 but it’s now down to six … Streamwood’s Holly Foret went on a tear with the bat April 25-27. She produced 10 hits in 19 at-bats with five runs and three RBI. In the process, she raised her batting average to .439 … Elgin junior Jennah Perryman carried a 1.66 earned run average into Tuesday’s play, and with the bat she had a .327 average with a team-high 16 RBI and five home runs in 49 at-bats. Elgin leadoff hitter Anna Eckholm was batting .411 while catcher Kelly Bremer had a .360 average with four home runs and eight RBI.
After St. Charles East beat Geneva for coach Kelly Horan’s 100th career win, it marked the Saints’ 17th straight win. They hadn’t lost since April 3, a 5-3 defeat at the hands of South Elgin.
On the same day East won its 17th straight, St. Charles North won its fourth straight to go 11-4.
North coach Tom Poulin said: “It’s good, but nothing like what they’ve done on the other side of town — they’ve won more in a row than we’ve even played.”