By Marty Farmer
Mike Marrese's goals for the Fenwick High School softball team this spring were to win the East Suburban Catholic Conference title and the Class 2A state championship. Although the team fell short in both of those ambitious pursuits, the foundation for future glory appears firmly set.
Fenwick (21-16) won 12 of its last 16 games under its first-year skipper en route a supersectional appearance.
Eventual state champion Glenbard South edged the Friars 2-1 in 11 innings at the Nazareth Supersectional. The Raiders (31-5) won the game when Hannah Taylor scored in the 11th inning to notch the 2-1 victory.
The Friars held a 1-0 lead against Glenbard South through five innings. Fenwick center fielder Jenna Cairo scored from first base in the opening frame after the Raiders' Gianna Marra dropped a fly ball in the outfield.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't pull of the win," Marrese said, "It was one of the greatest softball games I've been involved in."
Cairo finished 2-for-5 in addition to making three spectacular catches in center field.
Fenwick sophomore Val Perrelli threw a complete-game, eight-hitter with five strikeouts. The supersectional loss snapped Perrelli's winning streak at nine consecutive outings.
"When Val Perrelli turned things around, our season turned around," Marrese said. "The girls fed off Val's confidence."
After a rocky 2-6 start, Perrelli won 9 of 10 decisions to finish 11-7 with a 2.81 ERA.
Perrelli, Jess Mrozek (.449 batting average, seven home runs, 34 RBIs), Cairo (.402, 28 runs scored) and Ashley Parenti (.336, 26 RBIs) return to comprise a strong nucleus of talent.
"We're all very excited about next year," Marrese said. "When our kids step onto the field, they should expect to win."