All season, first-year Fenwick High School softball coach Bryan Hoffman has said his young team is a work in progress.
But the Friars experienced a major growth spurt May 27 at the IHSA Class 3A Trinity Regional, rallying late from a large deficit to edge the host Blazers 6-5 in a 10-inning classic at Triton College.
“It was an epic and insane battle,” Hoffman said. “the girls kept fighting and refused to give up.”
Interim Trinity coach Steve Curley, who took over at the season’s midpoint, felt the same way.
“I had parents from both teams come up and tell me that was the best regional championship game that they’ve ever seen, and I agree with them,” he said.
Fenwick’s Talia Lorenzo and Trinity’s Danielle Hoffman (Bryan’s daughter) engaged in a scoreless duel in the circle for the first four innings. But the Blazers (11-12-1) erupted for five runs in the bottom of the fifth on a RBI double by Danielle Hoffman, a RBI single by Linea Drever, a RBI single by Eleanor Flores, and a two-run single by Kendall Hynes.
Trinity took a seemingly commanding 5-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning. But then Fenwick (14-14-1) — which didn’t get its first base hit until the sixth — came up with a big rally.
Sophie Stone led off with a single and courtesy runner Cam Brusca stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Caity Barganski walked, Molly Mullen’s groundout plated Brusca.
Next, an Ellie Kolb single advanced Barganski to third, then Nevarez followed with a double for another run. Gabrielle Simon’s grounder to Hynes at third base resulted in an error, allowing Kolb to score and Nevarez to advance to third. After an intentional walk to Kailey Janda (2-for4) loaded the bases, Madelyn Entler’s two-run single tied the game at 5-5.
“We never gave up. We were cheering for each other the entire game,” Lorenzo said. “We really wanted to win.”
Then in the top of the 10th, Stone (2-for-5) drove a pitch over the left-field wall for a home run that proved to be the game winner.
“With the wind blowing in as hard as it was, the only way a ball was going to go was if it was a line drive,” Bryan Hoffman said. “Sophie came up huge.”
Stone was also huge in the circle, tossing five scoreless innings in relief to get the win. She gave up just two hits and struck out five.
In her final high school game, Danielle Hoffman went out like a champion for the Blazers. She went the entire 10 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and posting 12 strikeouts.
“Danielle pitched her heart out,” Curley said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better performance, and I told her afterwards it was the best I’ve ever seen.”
While happy his Friars advanced to the sectional, Bryan Hoffman felt bad his team had to defeat his daughter in the process.
“I felt bad for Danielle. She had a ton on her shoulders,” he said. “Danielle had a great career, and it was bittersweet having to beat Trinity.”
Drever, Hynes and Emily Rodriguez each collected two hits for Trinity, which had 10 for the day.
“Of course, we would’ve preferred to come away with the win, but we left everything on the field and there are no regrets,” Curley said.
Fenwick met Benet Academy in a semifinal May 31 at the IHSA Class 3A Glenbard South Sectional (after press time). The Friars lost to the Redwings 6-5 on April 19.