New Fenwick head softball coach Jen Butler insisted this season should not be considered a rebuilding year for the Friars, but the former Division I player and high school coach from Toledo, Ohio, said an “overhaul” is in order.

Butler, who played at Florida State University and last season coached at the high school level for a state championship program in Ohio, inherits a team that won just five games and lost 22 overall last season, and went 2-18 in the East Suburban Catholic League. She’s confident that this year’s team will improve on that mark.

“The players have been working real hard, and I believe we can certainly do better than last year. What we need to do is start from scratch, get down to the basic fundamentals and work from there up,” said Butler. “My goal is to turn this program into something that it should be, a winning program.”

Butler will be counting on returning seniors Grace Frank, Bridgett Ellsworth, Lauren Donati, Angelica Sanchez and Isabelle Sanchez to turn things around. But right now things are not off to a favorable start with No. 1 pitcher Isabelle Sanchez nursing a sore shoulder. According to Butler, junior Corey Alcarez will take the mound against St. Ignatius in the season opener on Tuesday at the Dominican Priory (4:30 p.m., weather permitting). Alcarez, a right-hander who played on junior varsity last season, has good velocity and a variety of different pitches, said Butler.

“We’ll be alright despite the injury with Isabella,” she said. “Corey is a very versatile pitcher, who just needs a little varsity experience.”

Frank is expected to take up again at first base, while Ellsworth assumes her spot at shortstop. Last season, Ellsworth batted .349 with 29 hits. Donati (.321 batting average) will play second, and Angelica Sanchez will defend third base. Angelica Sanchez will also bring her strong bat back to the lineup. Her .357 batting average led the team last year.

Freshman lefty centerfielder Alex Tomasek is likely to start for the Friars. Tomasek has speed and is a good slap dragger, said Butler.

Underclassmen Kerry Lange, a sophomore, and 6-foot freshman Meredith Boardman will also see significant playing time, according to Butler.

“They both have great potential,” she said. “We’ll use them for sure.”

Sarah Rudek, Kerry Blankshain and Katie Elia round out Fenwick’s eight seniors on the squad this season.

The Friars host Proviso West on March 25 and Lane Tech on March 27. Both games begin at 4:30 p.m.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...