Sandburg senior Sarah Herold is the first to admit that this wasn’t a “normal” regular season for the Eagles.
“We weren’t on top of teams that we should have beaten,” she said after Tuesday’s 11-0 Class 4A regional win over visiting Stagg.
Herold has other plans for the ”new” season.
“People come alive in the playoffs,” she said, her eyes wide and bright. “Like the Cubs that one year. They came alive. I think it was 100 years ago?
They really came alive.
“Just the whole idea of the playoffs… I think we’re going to wake up.”
Phase one went very well.
Herold started it at the plate with a two-run first-inning home run. She ended it in the circle, recording her ninth strikeout to complete a five-inning two-hit shutout.
In between, the Eagles (19-15) as a team produced plenty of offense, pounding out 11 hits against two Stagg pitchers.
Emily Griskell had the biggest day, going 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Bri Soltis (2-for-3) also cleared the fence, while Katie Krzus and Brooke Heimerl were both 2-for-3.
“We’ve been up and down (offensively),” Griskell said. “I mean, we’ve had our good days and bad days. Today we really jumped on them. It depends on if we’re all together or not. We need someone to start a rally, and then once we see that we keep going.”
The starter on Tuesday was Herold, who after striking out the side in the top of the first inning, followed a leadoff walk in the bottom half by Soltis with a two-run rocket.
“Oh, man. I thought that was going to be an out, that home run,” Herold said. “But it carried and I was like, ‘That’s all right, sun’s out, guns out.'”
Maddie Hanley doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Karli McLaughlin in the third. The Eagles then exploded for an eight-spot in the fourth, the highlights a home run by Soltis, a home run and a two-run single by Griskell and two singles by Heimerl.
Kyla Frain and Noor Elmosa each had singles for Stagg (3-20).
After the game, Chargers coach Missy Mason revealed that she was retiring after a long career as the softball coach at Stagg. Mason will remain as a teacher and girls golf coach.
“When I was a young coach at Elgin High school, I never wanted to be that coach who hung on so long that the kids weren’t getting the best coach possible,” she said. “At my age (51), I don’t know that I am the best coach possible. I know that I’m good for kids, but I think that maybe there are coaches who are there who can do for these kids more than I’m able to do.
“I am not going to be that coach that takes away from a young coach who really has a lot to offer. And we have coaches within our staff and new teachers coming into the building who will do a phenomenal job.”